by James A. Bacon
I’ve never owned a gun. The last time I shot a rifle, using a 22 for target practice, was about 55 years ago when I was a kid. Guns always made me nervous. I don’t hunt — I don’t like killing animals. Besides, I felt I was far more likely to accidentally shoot my foot off than ever need a weapon for self defense. Now I’m reconsidering.
Apparently, a lot of other Virginians are, too. Virginia gun sales set a record in June, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Estimated firearms sales, based on mandatory criminal background checks, reached 81,204. That’s a 157% increase over the number of transactions in June last year.
Much of the traffic is driven by gun owners stocking up on more weaponry. But Joshua Jennings, owner of Guns, Gear & Ammo in the Danville-Martinsville area estimates that one in ten are first-time buyers. “We’ve had some unusual buys, and what I mean by that is buyers who ordinarily would not statistically be likely to enter a gun store.”
“Civil unrest, rioting, looting and calls to defund the police are unquestionably motivating factors of why this trend is increasing,” Mark Oliva, director of public affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, told the Associated Press. “Americans are right to be concerned about their personal safety.” Continue reading
Photo credit: Richmond Times-Dispatch
by James A. Bacon
A loosely organized group of men and women with handguns and rifles are patrolling the Lee Statue on Richmond’s Monument Avenue “intent on keeping visitors safe,” reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Asked why she needed to carry a gun and participate in a volunteer security force, 19-year-old Jasmine Kelley replied, “I don’t want to die.”
That sounds paranoid to me, but as long as Ms. Kelley and her gun-toting friends are obeying the law, I don’t have a problem. The residents of the immediate neighborhood might feel nervous, and I wouldn’t blame them, but Virginia is a right-to-carry state.
I wonder what the tut-tutters who disapproved of the show of arms by peaceful protesters at the gun-rights rally in the state capitol last January might have to say.
By Peter Galuszka
White protestors have smeared a statue of Arthur Ashe, the African-American tennis star who faced systemic racism when he was growing up in Richmond.
True, the Ashe memorial had earlier been defaced by “Black Lives Matter” messages spray painted on its base. On Wednesday, a small band of protestors painted over the “BLM” statements with “White Lives Matter” pronouncements.
One of the protestors, a white man who called himself “Everybody,” claimed he had grown up in Richmond and drove off in a sedan with South Carolina plates, according to the Richmond-Times-Dispatch.
What is disturbing is the prospect of violent conflict, perhaps involving fast-firing, assault-style rifles, between opposing camps.
Much has been made of the so-called threat posed by ANTIFA, said to be a radical left group that is prepared to use violence at protests, which have been largely peaceful in Virginia and across the country. Continue reading
Persons charged with various offenses in Shenandoah County
By Dick Hall-Sizemore
For anyone who doubts that black people are harassed in everyday actions by other citizens and law enforcement, there is the recent incident in Shenandoah County to consider.
A black pastor was on the property of some apartments he owns when he saw a man and a woman, not his tenants, dragging a refrigerator toward the dumpster he maintains for the apartments. He stopped them and asked them to leave.
Shortly thereafter, three or four other men showed up. They began harassing him and using racial slurs. They told him that black lives don’t matter in Shenandoah County. They threatened to kill him.
The black man did what any good American would—he pulled out the gun for which he has a permit and then called 911.
The sheriff’s deputies showed up and did what was obviously needed to be done—they arrested the black man and charged him for brandishing a firearm. The gang at the black man’s property laughed and jeered as the deputies hauled the black man away to jail.
The story has a better ending this time. The sheriff has publicly apologized and asked that the criminal charge against the black man be dropped. The thugs who were threatening the man have been arrested and charged with abduction and other offenses, including hate crimes, and are being held in jail without bond. But the black people of Shenandoah County now have a graphic illustration of what some of their neighbors and law enforcement think of them.
Sen. Amanda Chase with sidearm
By Peter Galuszka
State Sen. Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield County, has always played the clown.
The conservative politician grabbed attention a year or so back when she addressed a meeting at the General Assembly wearing a revolver in a holster on her hip. She’s also feuded with the county Republican Party and was defrocked.
Now Chase is striking again by spreading fears of ANTIFA attacks on mostly white and middle class suburban areas. She says the loosely organized far left group is targeting strip malls at Meadowdale and Hancock Village in Chesterfield County and in Hanover County at Mechanicsville.
She said that members of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, a pro-gun lobby, would be patrolling some of these areas.
A few problems here:
Chase said her source for source for the ANTIFA tip was Chesterfield Police Chief Jeffrey Katz. Contacted by the Chesterfield Observer, Katz said he was not her source. “At no time did I share any active criminal intelligence with her,” Katz told the Observer. Continue reading
By Peter Galuszka
In 2014, the Sheriff’s Department of York County and Poquoson got their very own tank-like vehicle, called a “Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP).”
Fully armored and tan in color with steep sides, it looks like something out television footage of the war in Iraq where U.S. troops needed to get through mine-infested streets and terrain safely.
But why do such generally sleepy communities such as these need a high-powered armored car? Sheriff J.D. “Danny” Digs told The Virginian-Pilot and Daily Press that it isn’t meant to “intimidate people” but can be useful during adverse weather when trees are down. Really? Wouldn’t a pickup truck work?
The newspaper story is important since it combs through what Virginia law enforcement got after the “1033”Defense Department program started to sell surplus military gear to local law enforcement in 1997.
It notes that military surplus sales in Virginia went from $216,000 in 1999 to $853,824 in 2019, according to Defense Logistics Agency statistics. The latter number included the cost of another MRAP so Virginia Beach could get its very own armored truck. Over time, the City of Portsmouth got 87 M-16 assault rifles. Other goodies include night vision glasses. Continue reading
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By Peter Galuszka
On June 24, 2015, Nikki Haley, a Republican who was South Carolina’s first non-white governor, called for the removal of a Confederate flag that had been flying over the state’s capitol grounds for years.
“This flag, while an integral part of our past, does not represent the future of our great state,” she said. Her action came a few days after an avowed white supremacist walked into an African-American church and opened fire, killing church members attending a service.
I was watching the news on TV when she made her gutsy move. I was deeply impressed.
And now, Ralph Northam, a Democrat who is governor of Virginia, has taken a similarly gutsy move. He has ordered that the state-owned statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee be removed from its stand on Monument Avenue in Richmond. It has been there for about 130 years, erected by white supremacists with deep sentiment for their romantic myths of Southern history.
“I believe in a Virginia that learns lessons from our past and we all know that our country needs that example right now,” Northam said. Continue reading
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By Peter Galuszka
Get ready. The names of all kinds of leftist organizations are going to be kicked around as the masterminds behind violent, cop-beating looters, especially the so-called ANTIFA movement in Virginia and across the country..
But what is reality? I don’t have clear answers but I have some ideas to share since I have been dealing with activist groups since I was in high school in the late 1960s. I hope they help this blog’s discussion.
First, there’s plenty of research available about ANTIFA and there are already plenty of reports about it. It is not a single group but a very loose collection of autonomous activist groups, most of which do not advocate violence. For reference, see yesterday’s Daily Beast piece with the blunt headline, “Trump’s ‘ANTIFA Threat Is Total Bullshit – And Totally Dangerous.”
That article and plenty of others note that ANTIFA, or whatever it is, has no clear chain of command and uses ultra-fast social media to alert other activists about rallies and protests but has no control over them. If you are thinking about the tightly-controlled and secretive Communist cells of the past century, you are not getting it. Continue reading
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Statue of Gov. Harry F. Byrd on the state capitol grounds.
By Peter Galuszka
Right-wingers in Virginia have been apoplectic for months that Democrats finally captured the General Assembly after years of Republican control.
They also were enraged that the legislature this winter passed a number of reforms that would draw Virginia into the 21st Century such raising the minimum wage, boosting collective bargaining, tightening rules on carbon pollution and raising taxes for cigarettes, a deadly product.
Now such conservatives are using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to throttle or delay such needed reforms. They have banded into groups such as the Coalition fort a Strong Virginia Economy. They have used the Virginia Municipal League’s complaints against the reforms, claiming they cost too much, as a way to derail new measures.
According to the left-leaning blog site Blue Virginia, one of the more extreme advocates for scrambling changes is Dave LaRock, a far-right Republican delegate from Loudoun County. A pronounced gay-basher, LaRock wants to squelch all of the reforms made by the more progressive General Assembly. Continue reading
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Tagged Peter Galuszka
I am pleased to announce an affiliation with KerryDougherty.com published by former Virginian-Pilot columnist Kerry Dougherty. Kerry writes on a wide range of topics pertaining to politics and popular culture from a conservative perspective, and she has given us permission to re-post her commentary regarding the follies and foibles of Virginia here on Bacon’s Rebellion. — JAB
by Kerry Dougherty
After I wrote a piece last week revealing where Rep. Elaine Luria hid during the State of the Union address, one reader – we’ll call her Joan – left a comment on my Facebook page.
“Why don’t you ever write anything positive about Democrats?” she lamented.
“Like what, Joan?” I replied.
Well, Joan, this one’s for you. Turns out there are some anti-gun measures that even Virginia Democrats can’t stomach. As a result, I have something very positive to say about Creigh Deeds, John Edwards, Chap Petersen and Scott Surovell, the four Senate Democrats who boldly broke ranks with the anti-gun zealots running their party to vote against the so-called “assault weapons” bill. Continue reading
Patrik Mathews (left) and Brian Lemley at a store in Delaware where they purchased 150 rounds for target practice.
by James A. Bacon
Remember those three white supremacists the FBI arrested four days before the big gun-rights rally? They referred to themselves as “The Base,” peddled their vile ideology online, discussed committing acts of violence, engaged in para-military training, and assembled a “functioning assault rifle.” The FBI, which had been closely monitoring the group, scooped up the three men when they were holed up in Delaware before they could descend upon the Richmond rally and afflict violence.
The Washington Post, New York Times, and other publications ran articles highlighting fears that the Richmond rally might turn into another Charlottesville, and Governor Ralph Northam imposed a state of emergency, stating, “I took this action to protect Virginians from credible threats of violence. These threats are real — as evidenced by reports of neo-Nazis arrested this morning after discussing plans to head to Richmond with firearms.”
Fortunately, most neo-Nazis and white supremacists are not only losers, they’re morons. (I hope I’m not offending anyone with my “ablist” nomenclature.) Federal documents relating to Brian Mark Lemley J., Patrik Jordan Mathews, and William Garfield Bilbrough IV, detail not only their odious views and evolving plans but their malign stupidity. Continue reading
by Hans Bader
Virginia’s legislature may make it easier for people who killed or raped as teens to later possess or transport a gun. Ironically, this is being proposed at the same time that the legislature is restricting gun possession by law-abiding adults.
Legislation sponsored by senior Democratic legislators would raise the age for trying many juveniles as adults from 14 to 16. It would also change the law to allow certain 14- or 15-year-olds who commit “murder,” “rape,” or “kidnapping,” to later “possess or transport” a gun.
The bill, HB 274, would limit the reach of the Virginia law restricting “Possession or transportation of firearms, firearms ammunition, stun weapons, explosives or concealed weapons by convicted felons,” by crossing out the word “14” and replacing it with “16.” As revised, that law, § 18.2-308.2(A), would read: “It shall be unlawful for…(ii) any person adjudicated delinquent as a juvenile 14 16 years of age or older at the time of the offense of murder in violation of § 18.2-31 or 18.2-32, kidnapping in violation of § 18.2-47, robbery…in violation of § 18.2-58, or rape in violation of § 18.2-61….to knowingly and intentionally possess or transport any firearm.” Continue reading
by James A. Bacon
In General Assembly action yesterday, Democrats spiked a slew of Republican bills to relax gun laws and debated a so-called “red flag” law that would allow authorities to remove firearms from persons deemed “a substantial risk of injury to himself or others.”
The operating supposition behind Democratic gun-control initiatives is that gun violence is a huge problem in Virginia. Given the mass shooting at the Virginia Beach municipal center last year, plus ongoing chronic violence in inner-city jurisdictions such as Richmond, Petersburg, and Portsmouth, it is understandable that people would harbor that perception.
But the reality is that Virginia is one of the least violent states in the country. To be specific, according to data published in USA Today, the violent crime rate in Virginia is 4th lowest of the 50 states. Only in three small, predominantly rural states in New England is the crime rate lower. Compared to other states with comparable demographics — racial/ethnic mix, concentrations of urban poverty, Southern culture, and the like — Virginia’s violent crime rate is startlingly low. Continue reading