Thoughts on the Big Pro Gun Rally

By Peter Galuszka

 I was tempted to go the large anti gun-control rally but I had other work to do for customers and I didn’t want to get caught in a traffic jam. I have been to a few of these things before – some violent, some not.

There seems to be a certain amount of self congratulation now that the demonstration is over with no violence and one arrest. A few takeaways:

(1) Gov. Ralph Northam and his team deserve credit for taking smart precautions such as requiring no guns and metal detectors even though I didn’t quite see the point with having thousands of guys tricked out in military garb carrying assault style rifles just outside the fences at Capitol Grounds. This is what should have been done in Charlottesville in 2017.

(2) This was the approach taken at Klan rallies I covered in the late 1990s in Cleveland and Clarksburg,W.Va. The police tolerated nothing. I also was at a two-day riot in Moscow on Oct. 3 and 4 1993 where order completely broke down in a coup against Boris Yeltsin. Hundreds were killed including some people standing close to me. I also was almost caught in a machine gun cross fire on a highway. Among the dead were seven journalists.

(3)  This being Bacon’s Rebellion, one has to ask the most important question. How much is this costing the city, state and federal government? Why hasn’t anyone asked this question before? We’re supposed to shell out public dough so a bunch of guys opposing fairly moderate gun regulations can feel good about themselves?

(4) Lastly, there’s the moral aspect to this. I can’t say it any better than Ross Catrow in Good Morning RVA. Here’s what he wrote this morning:

“Well, Monday’s Lobby Day passed without physical violence, which feels, honestly, miraculous. However, I wouldn’t call what happened yesterday peaceful or, just because no one died, some sort of courageous display of democracy to be held up as a model for others. Thousands of people invaded Richmond, bristling with weapons for the sole purpose of intimidating citizens and legislators because things didn’t go their way during the last round of elections. Folks—myself included—were terrified, stayed home from work if possible, and worried about the safety of friends and family whose responsibilities took them Downtown. Throughout the week leading up to Monday, I got emails from institutions and officials warning me about the possibility of violence and asking me to stay away Downtown if at all possible. The Virginia Center for Public Safety cancelled their event honoring the victims of gun violence—an event they’ve hosted for the past 28 years. A large portion of my yesterday was spent, not with my family, but pull-to-refreshing Twitter, anxiously locked into seeing what happens when you put thousands of White men with assault rifles in a confined urban space. None of that felt peaceful. It felt terrorizing, which, of course, was exactly the point. However! I am incredibly thankful that, at least as of right now, The New Dem Majority seems undeterred in their work to pass the most chill and common sense of gun-safety laws, and we should celebrate that. Actually, we should do more: If you’re represented by a legislator who supports the handful of new gun-safety bills, send them an email thanking them for sticking up for what’s right. Yesterday their office was literally under siege because of their beliefs, and that most likely felt scary and awful. They could probably use some 

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29 responses to “Thoughts on the Big Pro Gun Rally”

  1. Robbie Mccraw Avatar
    Robbie Mccraw

    I am very disappointed that Bacon’s would allow for such a racist article to be published on this blog “thousands of White men with assault rifles in a confined urban space”. This statement is pure hate and racism and should not be printed. From the pictures I was privileged to see there were people of all races in attendance. This was one of the most peaceful demonstrations in history and just because it didn’t turn into violence as the liberals desired does not mean they should try to turn it around and make something bad out of it. The bottom line if we do not make a stand to protect all our Rights afforded by our Constitution the liberals will gradually try to take them all away.

    1. Robbie, Thanks for the comment. If you’re not familiar with Bacon’s Rebellion, we are primarily a conservative/libertarian blog. However, we invite other points of view with the goal of engaging in civil dialogue. The most dangerous thing that can happen in our society is if liberals and conservatives get trapped in their mutual echo chambers and hear only voices that reinforce their preconceived views.

      1. Anonymous3444 Avatar

        I think a lot of other fora could learn a lot from BR in this regard.

  2. “I was tempted to go the large anti gun-control rally but I had other work to do for customers and I didn’t want to get caught in a traffic jam. ….

    …thousands of guys tricked out in military garb carrying assault style rifles just outside the fences at Capitol Grounds”

    You weren’t there but you know there were “thousands of guys tricked out in military garb carrying assault style rifles” there? Please dial back the bias.

    1. Steve Haner Avatar
      Steve Haner

      What a wimp that guy Peter quoted is. I mean really. I didn’t go because of the crowd size, but have been around the Capitol with armed people for years, including smaller versions of this same demonstration. I’m glad the Governor decided to say no weapons in the buildings, I could go either way on no weapons on Capitol Square, but easily ten or fifteen thousand armed people were on the streets. And like the Governor, Peter, you give no credit to the fact that they were law-abiding, probably mostly polite and patient. I see those photos and what I think is, this is why the United States has produced and been protected by the finest infantry the world has ever known.

  3. djrippert Avatar

    Great column until you got to the Ross Catrow piece. Oh those scary people with their big guns … everybody hide! Spare me. If seeing a law abiding citizen open carrying a firearm terroizes Mr Catrow he ought to move to DC. No open carry allowed. If you have a permit you must carry concealed. If you don’t have permit – never fear – high powered, illegal guns are readily available for your purchase with not even the pretext of a background check. Of course you’ll never see these illegal guns carried openly. Well, not until it’s too late that is.

    Virginia has almost half a million active concealed carry permits in effect. So, 8 million Virginians minus 3.5m or so that are too young to get concealed carry permits means half a million permits over 5.5m people? So, about 1 in 11 Virginia adults have a concealed carry permit? Call it 1 in 15. Call it 1 in 20. How many times do you see a person on the street with a legally concealed gun and not know it?

    The private ownership and carrying of guns in Virginia is here to stay. Even when you don’t see them the guns are there. At least when you see someone with a gun you can make conscious decisions whether you don’t care, want to ask a fellow gun enthusiast some questions about his weapon, get nervous or turn and run as fast as you can in the opposite direction. Non-gun-owners need to get their wits about them as much as gun owners.

  4. Bias is an understatement. These people came with guns and not only didn’t start anything, they cleaned up the area. You don’t see the other side doing that.
    I know people that went. Handicapped people weren’t welcome. Actually the equality loving Governor specifically WITHDREW handicapped accommodations. This is in line with Virginia claiming sovereign immunity against any handicapped discrimination. Virginia is the ONLY place that does this.
    Reports that people were great have been mirrored by my own experience in Chesapeake, Va. Beach, Suffolk. Norfolk and Portsmouth are also big in the no trouble problems. The only problem at Chesapeake was when the cops had to take one of the gun control people and escort them to their car, since they were harrassing others.

  5. LarrytheG Avatar

    I think there is ample evidence of quite a few folks carrying assault weapons :

    The question is – did Northam do the correct thing and it worked or
    did the crowd prove they can be “law-abiding” and Northam went way overboard?

    What would have happened if the police were not there in force and the event was not cordoned off to limit access?

    We already know that White supremacists were going to show up and mingle with those “law-abiding” types, right? What happened?

    Finally, Is Virginia proposing laws that are not already in effect in other states? Can we say it is “unconstitutional” if other states, like Maryland already have similar laws?

    Once again – I have zero problems with people owning handguns and long rifles – for personal protection and hunting but I have a big problem with virtually anyone owning a weapon that is capable of killing many people in a short period of time and I don’t care if it is bump-stocks or high-capacity magazines or full-auto machine guns or RPGs, etc… they all have significant killing power and it’s totally ironic to me that the gun rights folks are NOT advocating for the “right” to own fully-auto weapons, RPGs, etc with no more restrictions than other weapons if the basic idea is that they have the “right” to not be “restricted”.

    Apparently, SOME restrictions are “ok” but others not?

    should any law-abiding citizen be able to own any kind of weapon?

    Is that a 2nd amendment right?

    1. sbostian Avatar

      Assault weapons or assault style weapons. I don’t know of any combat personnel or swat team member would accept a semiautomatic rifle that looks scary as their rifle of choice in war settings or drug raids. Why do the “reasonable gun control people” continue to refer AR’s as weapons of war when no competent war fighting organization would choose them voluntarily? Although my final question might fit better somewhere else in this discussion, here goes: Who really believes (and has data to back it up) that restricting the second amendment rights of law abiding gun owners will make us safer? Chicago, DC and other gun control jurisdictions seem to indicate the opposite.

  6. Peter, thanks for including the extended Ross Catrow quote. I can’t think of a better example of the paranoid delusions stalking urban progressives. I could have used that same quote in my commentary on the rally!

  7. Looking at the bigger picture, Virginia is certainly one helluva of a bifurcated state when it comes to guns, taxes, and so on. We are NOT purple, we are RED and BLUE.

    I liked a funny quote from one of the gun activists yesterday: she said the Dems were passing a bunch of “whack-a-do” laws. And I am looking at the bigger picture, and saying yes, the Dens want to pass a bunch of Whack-a-do laws on many issues. It will be interesting to see if the Dems can play the game properly realizing there is a larger public not just extreme leftism out there.

    The gun issue seems almost intractable here. We are sort of the national ground zero for the gun debate.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      Aren’t the proposed laws in Virginia like some laws in other states like Maryland?

  8. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    Larry, you have no idea and cannot tell from a photo what is or is not an automatic weapon. You probably saw semi-automatics that simply look like assault weapons, but work like regular rifles with clips. If that causes you to wet your pants like the guy Peter found, I’m sorry for you.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      Steve – I don’t think YOU understand guy. I’m NOT mistaking those weapons for automatics. I KNOW they are NOT because access to automatic weapons is so restricted, it’s almost impossible to get one.

      And that IS might point – that we ALREADY have severe restrictions on gun “rights” and yet we act like ANY “restriction” is wrong.

      I’m pointing out we already have severe restrictions on SOME types of guns and asking why those severe restrictions are also not unconstitutional?

      How come we restrict some types of “arms” and no one is arguing that those restrictions are Unconstitutional?

      So the bigger point here is that we actually have set up criteria for restrictions and what makes the current restrictions Constitutionally correct and other restrictions not?

      If you can lawfully own a sem-auto gun, why can’t you ALSO lawfully own an automatic weapon with no more restrictions than the sem-auto?

  9. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    The irony of the anti-gun control folks feeling they have to “make a stand to protect all our Rights afforded by our Constitution the liberals will gradually try to take them all away” just struck me. It was not that long ago that it was liberals pushing for Constitutional rights such as freedom of speech, fifth amendment rights, etc. and conservatives that were upset. I am happy that these folks want to protect all the rights afforded by the Constitution, including the Miranda rights and the right to an attorney.

  10. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    Jim, et al. Call me a whoosie but I can’t say that I’d feel all that comfortable with 22,000 people all carrying assault style rifles in a cramped urban area. Is this how Richmond wants to present itself?. Think of doing business with an outside visitor. “We’ll we’re almost done so lets go over and grab some brews and oyster on the shell. By the way, ignore those guys with the cammies and flak jackets and Bushmasters. They are really nice people.”

    Thinking it is normal to carry on “Lobby Day at the General Assembly” with hundreds of people with high powered firearms (including a very long rifle designed for use by snipers) is absolute insanity.

    Steve, I agree that the crowd Monday was better mannered than the white supremacists at Unite the Right and the Antifas looking for a fight. But feeling it is necessary to strut big guns around shows something massively wrong psychologically with a lot of people. NO ONE is threatening to take their guns except for red flag situations. I don’t know if you have seen the results of one but I have.What’s being proposed is really moderate and lots of states have them and Virginia had some of them at one time or another and there was no Castro-style takeover.

    Also, Jim, you are ignoring my question about the cost of police protection. If it were a leaky school roof or toilet, it would be a big deal.

    What Monday turned out to be (besides an effort by the gun lobby to intimidate) was redemption. Virginia really screwed up at Charlottesville. This (sort of) makes the political and law enforcement officials look competent and sane.

  11. I guess Ross Catrow never walks among people [more killings are done with fists & feet than rifles according to 2018 FBI Crime Report];
    never goes to a pharmacy [70,237 deaths in 2017 according to the CD];
    never goes near a car [36,560 in 2018];
    never takes eats at a fast food place [647,000 deaths from cholesterol and heart disease];
    never frequents a place which serves alcohol [88,000 deaths a year].

    life is scary if you’re ignorant.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      so Walmart is being “ignorant” when they decide to not sell guys and post these signs: ?

      or does that mean that Walmart is run by a bunch of “leftists”?

      why would Walmart do that if more people die from fists and feet?

      why do Courts not let armed people into courtrooms if fist and feet are more deadly?

      somewhere there is some common sense involved… right?

  12. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    Speaking of the costs of such events, here’s something I did for BusinessWeek in 2000. Sorry about the paywall. Blame Mike Bloomberg, not me.

  13. vaconsumeradvocate Avatar

    I see here that most are not considering that many good folks were intimidated and are intimidated when these things happen. Calling them weak or something else doesn’t address the issue. I know I had a gut reaction when a large group of people carrying guns entered a restaurant where I was and again when I arrived in Guatemala City to see armed police in the street medians. The concerns of those who feel intimidated need to be addressed fairly, not made fun of. Those people count, too, even though they are not on this platform.

    1. Exactly so, VaCA: I don’t claim to speak for or against gun rights per se, but an event like this one was intimidating to many if not most ordinary folks, as it was intended to be. I was not there, but I did not have to be; I’ve seen the same photos that undoubtedly you have. Not one picture of a well dressed country gentleman with his hunting vest and birding shotgun; no, the folks that were out there to make a point were encased in bulky military-style gear with military style weapons. What were they dressed to hunt: birds — or people?

      1. Peter Galuszka Avatar
        Peter Galuszka

        Acbar. Exactly. I live in the country with a couple of real country stores. This time of year you see hunters all the time. They don’t scare me one bit and i know a few personally. When i grew up, the kids in the next house over actually reloaded their shells and they were maybe 14 or 15 years old. They were great deer hunters

      2. Are you kidding me? Of course they will show that type because it fits their narrative. I show up in skirt, dress blouse and a jacket appropriate to a professional business meeting, you don’t see those photos.
        Well I lied, when I gave the power salute to Mayor Dyer, that got in the paper but the full outfit didn’t.
        Try going out in heels and skirts, men in dress suits, for a meeting like that is beyond the pale of understanding. You’re going to dress to stay warm and camo is warm.

  14. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka


    Also, in Maryland, one can’t bring a firearm to a public meeting.

    Remember the program that Richmnod had sme years back about automatic prison terms if someone uses a gun in a crime. Is that too much in this age of Trump who issued that totally tacky tweet on the Richmond rally.

    1. sbostian Avatar

      If you are referring to “Project Exile”, I am a 2nd Amendment proponent and have always supported that law.

  15. djrippert Avatar

    In answer to Larry’s question above …

    Even if all the proposed laws pass Maryland will have stricter gun laws than Virginia. You cannot legally purchase a handgun in Maryland without a Handgun Qualification License. The HQL requires a fingerprint based background check. You have to take a firearms safety course (4 hours of instruction). Once you have an HQL you can open carry a handgun. You need an HQL to even rent a handgun from a gun range to fire at the range.
    So, handguns are registered. There is no pretense that the state doesn’t know who legally owns handguns.

    In Maryland, you can get a concealed carry permit if you can show a “good and substantial reason to carry a handgun”. In Virginia the state has to have a good reason not to grant you a concealed carry permit.

    Permits are not required for rifles or shotguns and they may be open carried.

    Maryland assault weapons definition and status ….

    1) Is this weapon semi-automatic? If not, it is not banned and you do not need to continue.

    2) If this is a rifle, is it centerfire? If not, then it is not banned and you do not need to continue.

    3) Is this weapon considered to be a copy of a banned weapon? If so, then it is banned and may not be purchased, sold, or transferred.

    4) If this is a semi-automatic centerfire rifle that can accept a detachable magazine, does it have any two of the following: a folding stock; a grenade launcher or flare launcher; or a flash suppressor; If so, then it is banned and may not be purchased, sold, or transferred.

    5) If this is a rifle, does it have a fixed magazine that holds more than 10 rounds? If so, then it is banned and may not be purchased, sold, or transferred.

    6) If this is a rifle, what is the overall length of the weapon? If the stock is fully extended and there are no removable additions to the barrel, is the weapon less than 29 inches? If so, then it is banned and may not be purchased, sold, or transferred.

    7) If this is a semi-automatic shotgun, does the weapon have a revolving cylinder? If so, then it is banned and may not be purchased, sold, or transferred.

    8) If this is a semi-automatic shotgun, does the weapon have a folding stock? If so, then it is banned and may not be purchased, sold, or transferred.

    Now Larry – move to Baltimore so you can be safe from the crazies carrying guns in Virginia.

  16. LarrytheG Avatar

    You missed my point entirely on purpose or not.

    I was asking if Maryland’s laws were unconstitutional.

    and could Virginia enact the same laws Maryland has without them
    being “unconstitutional”?

    just FYI – my understanding is that many guns in Baltimore come from Virginia … precisely because it’s easier to get them in Virginia.

    Here’s the problem.

    NO LAW is going to stop something 100%.

    If that was the standard, we’d not have speeding laws or even laws against murder…

    that argument with respect to guns is totally bogus.

  17. Kelly Greenman Avatar
    Kelly Greenman

    i Can not even tell you how much this disturbs me. You felt terrorized? Because there were thousands of Armed “white men”. Who were upset because things didn’t go their way last election. So you felt terrorized because a planned, peaceful, law abiding protest was conducted. Which has been held this same day for decades. Even before this last election when things didn’t go their way. The fact that you state there is a “moral aspect” to this and use this inflammatory diatribe. How do citizens of the commonwealth INVADE their capital? Legislators work for the people who they represent, even if they do not see eye to eye on how to accomplish this. So these demonstrators did not invade they showed up.
    You felt terrorized because people were bristled with guns because they did not like outcome of the elections. This might be the most outrageous statement. 1. Lets just say this GUNS DONT KILL PEOPLE LOOK AT ALL THOSE GUNS AND NOT ONE KILLING, huh go figure. 2. They didn’t like the outcome, so it would of been more acceptable to use the “lefts” displeasure at the outcome of the last presidential election? You know where they looted, burned, vandalized and destroyed personal property? Oh and let’s not forget that this Demonstration started being planned last year at the same time.
    You claim this is the most chill and common sense laws, how you find it perfectly acceptable to say that a middle income man should have to go bankrupt to disprove (which proving the absence of anything is a million times harder than proving the existence of something). That he is a harm to himself or others after a false narrative was made about him. I have met people who have had this affect their lives in a real manner. I can tell you that they do not find it to be common sense or CHILL.
    As a veteran and an American I find this whole narrative to be a prime example of the big problem from both sides. It’s alright for demonstrators to hold ugly anti war demonstrations right outside the cemetery while a US soldier is being laid to rest and they chant evil ugly names about the soldier who died and they know nothing about, and that’s ok they are practicing their freedom of speech and their rights to demonstrate that was given to them in the constitution. You know the same constitution that soldier raised his hand and laid down his life to defend. Yet when a gun rally happens in the capital we allow the rhetoric and repeat it to say that they invaded, urban (I guess it’s just country bumpkins who own guns, hate to tell you I work all over the state of VA with GUN OWNERS and they come in all shapes, colors,Creed’s, sexes, ages, religions, regions,
    Socio economic back grounds all over this great commonwealth) “none of it felt peaceful” but rather terrorizing yet only one person was arrested and according to news source she was thought to be a leftist because of what her partner shouted out as she was being arrested for having a bandanna in her face. Stating that the legislators were literally under siege, no one was kept against their will (unlike all the “Lefts” who blocked people from exiting elevators while they screamed in their face about Kavanough and they were seen cowering in the back of the elevator) this was literally lobby day, which means the day you lobby ( try to get your views across) to those who are meant to represent you. Lastly it’s not what legislators “believe” that is suppose to be their thought process. They are suppose to represent all their constituents, not just who voted them in to office. Obviously they can not make all happy, and sometimes they may go against their own personal beliefs because it’s what’s best for the majority. They are not suppose to just vote party lines. That means that they have to hear from all sides to make an educated decision. It is messages like this that are going to keep dividing us as a nation

  18. Kelly has a great point. In Chesapeake, the only one the cops went after was a man for the pro gun control side. After being in your face, the cops escorted him to his car to leave. Everyone else stuck to waving flags, chanting the constitution, cheering speakers, and saying they wouldn’t comply.

    Hardly anything to get upset over. Allowing someone to lead you by the mind like that, rather than facts, is what makes things way too hard. If you are led like that, you’ll fall hook, line and sinker for every thing. I’ve seen betrayal from those I was the only one to stick up for, on the left side, because they said our group is trying to kill them.

    I stick by what I did as right. Let those people be exposed because others will not want to go with someone in those situations. They’ll never have that respect, and they should not.

    Growing up is a tough thing. Its time people started acting like it. Stop expecting that one side act like you can throw temper tantrums and spit in their face. It is time for a correction to make sure bullies stop that and behave like adult, responsible, human beings.

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