WaPo Escalates Gun-Rights Rhetoric

Gun rights advocates outside Virginia Beach administration building last night. City Council voted 6 to 4 to declare city a Second Amendment sanctuary.

by James A. Bacon

As Virginia Beach and Clarke County joined the list of 100+ Virginia localities endorsing symbolic Second Amendment sanctuary status and as gun-rights activists plan a massive rally at the state capitol, many in the media are working themselves into a frenzy of fear. No one appears to be more terrified than the scribblers at the Washington Post.

The Post is comparing the planned Richmond rally, expected to draw 50,000 or more, with the 2017 slugfest between white supremacists and leftist counter-protesters in Charlottesville. The gun-rights crowd, warns the editorial page, “would be several times larger than those that paralyzed and convulsed Charlottesville in August 2017. … There are plenty of unknowns but one thing is certain: Many or most of the protesters, including or especially those espousing hateful and unhinged ideas, will be heavily armed, including with assault-style weapons.”

But that’s nothing compared to whacko WaPo columnist Petula Dvorak, who extrapolates from fringe rants and memes appearing on social media to “gun enthusiasts” at large.

The gun guys are scared out of their minds that someone’s going to come and take their guns. (Again, fantasy.)

They live in a make-believe world where they are the heroes and the patriots under attack.

They are retweeting old photos of white U.N. trucks saying they are “gun control shock troops” coming in to disarm Virginians. (Debunked by Snopes.com in 2016.)

They’ve issued threats against Gov. Ralph Northam (D).

They are recruiting military and law enforcement members to come in and train posses and militias across the state. …

This time, they’re going to try a new fantasy, as they plan to gather in Richmond in January for a rally to rival the fatal disaster in Charlottesville.

It’s hard to know who is more unhinged and disconnected from reality, the far right-wing kooks in the recesses of the Internet… or Dvorak.

Who is this “they” she is talking about? She is equating the whack-jobs who spread the U.N.-is-coming-to-take-your-guns tweet and the nut-cases who threatened Governor Ralph Northam to gun-rights advocates generally, and then in a paranoid leap of logic suggests that they are planning to gather in Richmond for “a rally to rival the fatal disaster in Charlottesville.”

Contrast Dvorak’s blunderbuss rhetoric to that of Philip Van Cleave, head of the most visible gun-rights group in Virginia, the Virginia Citizens Defense League. The Jan. 20 rally, he says on the League website, is a day for lobbying and “sending a message” to lawmakers. Readers, please take note: Van Cleave is not repeating the memes cited by Dvorak. To the contrary, he makes it clear that nothing has yet been decided. Says he (my bold face):

While there have been some verbal threats by the Democrat leadership to push major gun control down the throats of Virginia’s gun owners and some very bad bills already filed to back up that threat, NOTHING has happened yet and won’t until after Jan. 8. And perhaps it won’t happen at all, if we press hard enough.

In reference to the offers of various militia groups to “provide security” — “gracious” offers in his diplomatic words — Van Cleave says, “We have the security base covered nicely.” Some militia groups, he noted approvingly, are looking to deliver canned food donations to a Richmond Food Bank.

Van Cleave asks that rally participants not carry long guns, which would create a distraction. And he makes it clear that the event is about gun rights, and only gun rights, not flags, statues, history, or any of the Alt-right hot button issues. Van Cleave wants to mobilize “Minutemen” who can provide large turnouts at General Assembly hearings on short notice and “flood the room with people wearing Guns Save Lives stickers.” He also wants to to “melt down the phones” and “flood the email in-boxes” of legislators. Standard political stuff. Richmond is not heading for a Charlottesville-style confrontation.

Dvorak does cite another “gun enthusiast” source, Ammoland, a purveyor of shooting sports “news.” More militant than the Virginia Citizens Defense League, Ammoland is encouraging out-of-state groups to join the rally. Especially disturbing, Ammoland is disseminating factually inaccurate information — though not the social media memes that Dvorak mentions. Among its irresponsible claims, Ammoland accuses Northam of violating not only the Second Amendment but seeking to criminalize free speech and assembly, confiscate guns without due process, ban entire categories of weapons “essential to a well-regulated militia,” and criminalize normal, wholesome family shooting activities.”

The truth of the matter, as best I can discern it, is that the vast majority of Virginia gun-rights advocates are responsible, law-abiding citizens, and have no desire to provoke a confrontation in Richmond with anyone. Unfortunately, zealots from outside the state have taken an interest in the rally and are escalating the rhetoric with irresponsible statements — just like the Washington Post is doing.

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16 responses to “WaPo Escalates Gun-Rights Rhetoric”

  1. Yikes! I just read Peter’s post describing the planned Jan. 20 rally to United The Right 2.0! I guess Bacon’s Rebellion has joined the list of publications contributing to the escalating rhetoric.

    I will credit Peter with this: He does not not conflate the Virginia Citizens Defense with white supremacists and neo-Nazis. And, in seeking some balance, he even quotes the League’s website. In that regard, he is far more responsible than Dvorak who is to journalism as Jeffrey Dahmer is to the culinary arts.

    1. djrippert Avatar

      ” … who is to journalism as Jeffrey Dahmer is to the culinary arts.” Lol. Love it. Consider that statement stolen.

  2. Del. Dave LaRock, R-Loudoun, a pro gun-rights legislator, has penned an op-ed for the Winchester Star calling for a de-escalation of rhetoric. He writes:

    “Just before Christmas, I received a letter from a constituent who is the wife of an active-duty Virginia Guardsman. She revealed to me threats of severe violence being made against Guardsman on social media related to how a Guardsman would act if called upon to enforce unjust unconstitutional laws.”

    He also cites inflammatory rhetoric from the right, including this, which I haven’t seen reported on yet:

    “Reliable sources indicate that Virginia Beach has been given an ultimatum from Richmond threatening if it passes such a resolution it can forget financial relief related to the massacre that recently took place in a Gun-Free-Zone owned by the City of Virginia Beach. That quid-pro-quo sounds like what Nancy Pelosi purports to be an impeachable offense.”

    I don’t know that I trust LaRock’s “reliable source” any more than I trust the Washington Post’s “reliable sources,” but it would be very interesting to know if, in fact, such a threat were issued, and who issued it.

  3. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    Jim. All it takes is one squeeze of the trigger

  4. TooManyTaxes Avatar

    Doesn’t the First Amendment protect the rights of assemblage and the right to petition government for redress of grievances? I guess it’s OK to rally for illegal immigrants but not for Second Amendment rights.

    And consider the source – the Washington Post. The paper that despite a written policy against the editorial board interfering with news reporting, tolerated members of the editorial board pressuring reporters to kill anything negative about then Governor Tim Kaine. The newspaper that refuses op-eds opposing anything pro-tax despite inviting readers to send in op-eds.

    My journalist friends, I cannot believe you operate(d) that way.

  5. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    Jim, dc is already a second amendment sactuary

    1. djrippert Avatar

      You’ve lost me with that comment.

  6. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
    Reed Fawell 3rd

    Recall the Washington Post’s reaction to a group of Catholic high school boys from Kentucky on vacation wearing MAGA hats in front of the Capital building in Washington DC. In that case, the Catholic students from Kentucky acted like adults and the Washington Post reporters acted like hysterical children. Same with all things Trump.

    In short the Washington Post is a major part of the problem when trying to prevent matters getting out of hand in Richmond. Here again the larger problem is the ill-educated children who never grow up as emotionally stable adults, the broken products of our corrupt system of higher education who now are children the age of adults. So we may have Charlottesville all over again.

    1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

      CNN just settled with the kid from Kentucky. It’s my recollection that media companies are very much against settlements based on their belief they can say or print what they want and the fear of more lawsuits. Counsel must have convinced management that a big jury verdict was a distinct possibility.

  7. johnrandolphofroanoke Avatar

    One thing is absolutely certain about January 20th. Interstate highway speed limit will be raised to unlimited. Every badge in the state is going to be in Richmond. Ahead warp factor 8 Mr. Scott.

  8. djrippert Avatar

    I am sure the Richmond Police Department is a fine law enforcement organization. I am equally sure that Virginia has a top notch National Guard. However, neither has much experience with situations like this proposed rally. And we saw what happened in Charlottesville. Show some sense. Call the Metropolitan Police Department in DC and ask for help. Do you have any idea how many unhinged, far right and left lunatic groups come from all over the country to march and protest in DC? Seems like a major march per month. You ever hear of people being killed or run over by cars in these DC marches?

    Nothing personal. If this rally was scheduled for Reston instead of Richmond I’d sure hope that the Fairfax County government would reach out to MPD.

    Bring in the pros.

  9. The proof of this pudding will be what you have to say about it the next day. Just remember, 2 1/2 years ago the Charlottesville and State police thought they had everything in place, situation under control.

  10. TooManyTaxes Avatar

    Northam should call up a couple of companies of the National Guard with the instructions to keep all demonstrators and counter-demonstrators separate.

    McAuliffe has been involved in some sleazy deals but I just cannot believe he purposely allowed things to get out of control in C’Ville. Dumb ass decision – yes. Malicious – no.

    Northam will do whatever signals the most virtue.

  11. Bills like this don’t help/ the situation
    HB567: Indoor shooting ranges; prohibited in buildings not owned or leased by the Commonwealth. Del. Dan Helmer (D-Fairfax Station)

  12. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    Sorry i meant dc is an anti sanctuary city

    1. djrippert Avatar

      Ahh .. thanks. Much like Sarah Palin can see Russia from her side yard I can see DC from my living room window and GUNS is a dirty four letter word across the river.

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