Well regulated militias? Not bloody likely

A pro-gun rally on Jan. 20, a creation of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, predicts 50,000 - 100,000 firearm fanciers packing Richmond -- many probably strutting with their AR-15s and other "assault-style" weapons.
Militia... Virginia style. Oh, brother. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

In Nevada, a gun-toting group who call themselves the “Oath Keepers” are sending teams to Virginia to “form posses and militia.”

Another outfit, the Three Percent Security Force is flooding Facebook with videos and calls to arms, urging “patriots” to converge on Richmond. A YouTuber who calls himself “American Joe Show” claims Virginia will “cut the power grid to stop the army of protesters.” He offers no proof because no such plans exist.

A pro-gun rally on Jan. 20, a creation of the Virginia Civil Defense League, predicts 50,000 – 100,000 gun fanciers packing the Capitol — many probably strutting with their AR-15s and other “assault-style” weapons.

Civil Defense League president Philip Van Cleave says he is “appealing” to his members to leave the ARs and other long guns behind but brags that he expects the crowds to include “enough citizens armed with handguns to take over a modern midsize country.”

The “rally” that could easily become an armed confrontation is set on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and a traditional day for citizen lobbying at the State Capitol.

Police admit they could have a large crowd and that worries most of them.

“Do we look at these numbers seriously? It certainly behooves us to prepare for all possibilities,” says Capitol Police spokesman Joe Macenka.

“There’s a dangerous intersection here of speech and guns, and what I think is critically important is that we don’t see the sort of armed intimidation and even violence that resulted . . . in Charlottesville,” Adam Skaggs, chief counsel and policy director at Giffords Law Center, told The Washington Post.

Self-styled militia types, including organizer Christian Yingling (sunglasses) at the Charlottesville rally that killed a woman protesting against them.

Charlottesville was a 2017 “Unite the Right” rally that tried to stop removing a Confederate statue. A white supremacist ran down and killed counterprotestor Health Heyer when he drove his car into a crowd of people. Others were injured.

Virginia’s Open Carry Law allows anyone who can legally own a gun to carry it on the Capitol Square and the Old Dominion’s concealed carry law allows having them in the Capitol itself. Firearms are permitted in the House gallery but not the one in the Senate.

If the Capitol Police fear problems, they could ask for a ban at public entrances but Macenka says they are in “a wait and see mode.”

“It is not our job to draft these kinds of regulations,” he adds. “We enforce the law, and we will do this to the best of our ability.”

In often rowdy public sessions that led to many local governing boards in Virginia to approve a resolution, calling for opposition to any state law that they claim will violate the Second Amendment that supports the right to bear arms, several speakers have called for creation of militias to become “peace keepers” to protect gun rights.

Not so fast, says Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, one of the Democrats that now run Virginia’s government and control the legislature.

Such militias, he says, could easily violate state law.

In the packed public comment meeting in Floyd County last month, one speaker urged the Board of Supervisors to create such a militia. Tazewell County’s board passed an ordinance to enable it to “raise a militia” if needed. Herring says the courts may overrule that stunt.

Now, a group calling themselves Concerned Citizens of Floyd is distributing a notice of what they call a “Floyd County Militia Muster Call” at Floyd Recreational Park on Jan. 18 in Floyd. Wonder if they plan to invite Joe Turman, chairman of the Floyd County Board of Supervisors, and a retired county deputy.  Concealed carry permit owners are invited to attend while “packing.” There will be an inspection of unloaded ARs, among other things.

Ironically, the Constitutional Second Amendment that grants the right “to own and bear arms” also refers to having such weapons for use by citizens in a “well regulated militia.”

That’s the problem. Militias, by design, are anything but regulated. Chaos usually rules and people die.

Why do an increasing number of Virginians want more control over the proliferation and frequent use of guns? Columnist Petula Dvorak writes:

Let’s talk reality and fantasy in Virginia.

Just minutes into New Year’s Day, it rained glass inside Justin Tate’s car, as a celebratory bullet shot into the sky at midnight that fell back to the earth through his sunroof as he drove down Interstate 64, not far from the Richmond airport, according to CBS 6 News.

Less than half an hour later in the western part of the state, in the parking lot of Kickback Jack’s sports bar in Danville, a 25-year-old woman was shot in the leg by a 24-year-old man during a domestic dispute. The shooter took off and hasn’t been arrested, according to the Danville police.

Later that day, in a small town not far from the parking-lot shooting, an earnest, new Martinsville police officer named Michael Panos was airlifted to a hospital after a man who fled a traffic stop turned his gun on officers once they chased him down, hitting Panos. The officer, about to celebrate two years with the department, survived, according to ABC News 13.

And on the third day of 2020, a man upset with his order at a McDonald’s drive-through in Lynchburg parked his car, walked up to the counter and began firing his gun at employees, hitting two high school-age girls who worked there. The shooter fled and hasn’t been caught, and the girls survived, according to the Lynchburg police.

Shattered glass, shattered bones, shattered lives. This the reality of gunfire in Virginia.

Yes, Virginia, you have a gun problem

Most sensible people (like most of the developed world, for example) would look at innocent people being shot and see a problem.

We never felt deprived of firearms while the federal Brady bill outlawed AR purchases for several years and it wouldn’t bother wife Amy or I if they were banned again in Virginia. Neither of us sees bans on certain types of firearms as a violation of our Second Amendment right to “own and bear arms.”  Uncle Sam prohibits purchase or ownership of fully automatic weapons, although some who obtained them while having once had easy-to-obtain firearm dealers permits can still own them if they had that ownership before the law was changed.

The last time I checked, it is still illegal to own a grenade launcher as a private citizen. Never really needed one. Limits on ammunition rounds in semi-automatic magazines? The limit of 10 rounds in a semi-automatic pistol or a rifle was part of the Brady bill and is still in effect in California. You can’t hit a target in 10 shots? Maybe you shouldn’t be using a firearm.

Hunters have had to deal with “plugs” to limit the rounds in shotguns for a long time. Has not stopped good shots from bagging their game limits.

Gov. Ralph Northam proposes requiring gun owners to register certain types of weapons. Wife Amy and I lived in Illinois (where she was born) and we had to register our ownership of weapons. She grew up in a hunting family too and neither of us minded the registration.

Northam was wrong with his original idea of trying to make a ban on certain AR-style long guns retroactive. Virginia doesn’t allow such things, and he abandoned the idea after his Attorney General advised him of the long-standing law, called the Dillon rule.

Power probably went to his head. That happens a lot with elected officials. Just look at Washington.

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