U.S.A. -(AmmoLand.com)- The VCDL just released part two of their six-part series covering the events leading up to and stretching beyond their 2020 lobby day. Given the historical importance of the events, and the current as well as future ramifications, it's nice to have a play-by-play rundown of everything that occurred. Part two from the VCDL is below.
Part 2. Preparation: as the expected Lobby Day attendance skyrockets and VCDL's infrastructure is pushed to the limit, panicky gun-controllers attempt to minimize the rally or even get it canceled altogether!
VIRGINIA GUN OWNERS SHIFT GEARS AS OTHER STATES CLOSELY WATCH WHAT'S TRANSPIRING HERE
As the Second Amendment Sanctuary movement, which had brought out over 105,000 gun owners over a period of only six weeks, started to die down (the state was pretty much solid green by the end of December), VCDL's Lobby Day became the focus for gun owners across the state – and – across the nation!
Most Virginia gun-owners realized that just because they lived in a newly-minted sanctuary locality, they were not safe from the crazy gun-control laws that were going to be headed their way from Richmond. Those in other states realized that Virginia, long a bastion of liberty and strong gun-rights, was the canary-in-the-coal-mine for the rest of the country.
Gun owners were filled with a resolve to send an unmistakable message to the General Assembly and VCDL's Lobby Day became the rally point.
LOBBY DAY PREPARATIONS STARTED A HALF YEAR EARLIER ASSUMING “BUSINESS AS USUAL”
VCDL started to get ready for Lobby Day in late July of 2019, working through the red tape that was required to hold the rally on the Capitol steps at 11 am on January 20, 2020. We were figuring on our typical 600 to 1,000 people and were worried about the underpowered PA system that would be provided by the State. We had to use their PA system, even though we owned a far superior one.
We were looking to book our usual 3 buses: one for Tidewater, one for Northern Virginia, and one for Roanoke/Lynchburg.
Little did we know a giant firestorm would be headed our way in a mere six months. Nor had we any hint of all the attempts that would be made to minimize, sabotage, or to outright stop, Lobby Day.
In early November 2019 everything changed and by the end of December, it was clear that our current planning was going to be woefully inadequate.
THE MAGNITUDE OF THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE HEADED TO LOBBY DAY BECOMES APPARENT
Emails and social media, extremely active since November, really took off in as we approached the end of December.
We were hearing from groups all across the state, and even across the country, organizing to come – gun clubs, shooting ranges, political organizations, social clubs, etc.
VCDL began to book more buses, and then more, and then more again. In the end, instead of 3 buses, VCDL had 44 and there were at least another 50 that were booked by individuals and various organizations in Virginia. And there were more buses coming from out of state!
Texas had 7 buses coming. There was a bus booked by the Connecticut Citizens Defense League headed our way. More buses from Florida. People were coming from as far away as California, Nevada, and Washington State, even some from Alaska! And gun owners from states with much less freedom that we enjoy here were coming to support us (how humbling is that?): Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland. The list where people were coming from pretty much covered the entire country, except Hawaii!
What, no “aloha” for Virginia, Hawaiian gun owners? 😉
In late December we were thinking that perhaps 30,000 people might be attending. Soon that grew to 50,000 and even as many as 120,000 was thought to be possible.
Now VCDL found itself in a different world for purposes of planning. Suddenly we needed to consider:
renting port-a-potties (we started with 15 and ended up renting 65, but could have used some additional ones at the remote parking location)
having places for people to park
renting shuttle buses to run back and forth to remote parking (we booked 4 shuttles and that wasn't enough)
somehow getting permission to have a real PA system
arranging for trash to be collected in VCDL-provided trash bags and taken to the trash bins
having a drone to photograph the crowd from high above
two-way radios and body cams for Lobby Team Leaders and VCDL Leadership and
where, oh where, do you put 50,000 or 120,000 people?
Our small, mostly volunteer organization, had to pull all that together in just three weeks!
VCDL STEPS UP ITS GAME
VCDL Board of Directors members Pat Webb and Bruce Jackson kicked into high gear. I was so overwhelmed with an explosion of emails (I fell behind by 10,000 emails in just a few days), press interviews, and my own part of the planning for the event, that Pat and Bruce had to handle the flood of phone calls and the various emails that I forwarded to them. (The VCDL phone lines were pretty much ringing continuously.)
Pat was also arranging to get the port-a-potties, paying VCDL's bills, interfacing with VCDL's Executive members (many of whom had also kicked into high gear, too), helping me lobby, working on getting a better PA system option, AND running her gun store!
Bruce, who also does VCDL fulfillment, was shipping up to a hundred packages a day AND working his regular day job!
Executive members Tess Ailshire and Leyla Myers were coordinating the buses and putting out fires as they popped up. They were inundated, but kept going like Energizer bunnies.
Executive member Ken Van Wyk was organizing the lobbying team leaders and the packets they would be delivering to legislators.
Executive member Matt Gottshalk was arranging to make videos documenting Lobby Day and looking at ways that audio of the rally could be streamed so attendees in remote locations could hear the rally's speakers (that didn't pan out, unfortunately, due to the shear magnitude of the crowd size overwhelming any streaming capabilities we might use).
Our membership director, Sandy Ferris, was overwhelmed as membership soared – our membership TRIPLED in six-weeks! She went from working on membership applications part-time to doing so full-time.
Oh, and then there was social media! The influx of information on our Facebook page, moderated by EMs Ed Levine and Joanna Smith, was mind-boggling. Thousands of posts in a single day and up to a half-million views on one of the posts! I don't know how Ed and Joanna kept up, but they did. On top of that, Ed was involved in fund raising efforts!
EM Brendon Mooney was kept busy moderating Reddit and also working on fundraising ventures.
EM John Pierce got VCDL's Legislative Tracking System for 2020 up and running and helped me with legislation.
Vice-president Jim Snyder picked up some of the load by handling many of the non-legislative VA-ALERTs that needed to get out in a timely manner.
All that hard work paid off. Lobby Day came off almost without a hitch. It was both exhilarating and exhausting for everyone involved. I equated it to trying to drink out of 5 fire hydrants at one time!
All the VCDL members who worked their rear ends off to make Lobby Day 2020 happen, such as those who worked the VCDL table at the remote parking area or served on one of the VCDL lobby teams in the General Assembly Building, deserve our debt of gratitude for a job unbelievably well done!
THE GUN-GRABBERS TRY TO DERAIL, OR AT LEAST WEAKEN, LOBBY DAY
The gun-control crowd looked at the massive Second Amendment Sanctuary movement in November and December, along with the explosion of interest in Lobby Day, as a threat to getting their gun-control nightmare, uh, dreams, fulfilled.
They knew there was no way they could match the projected crowd size at the VCDL Lobby Day. They would be extremely lucky to get a few hundred people to show up, much less tens of thousands. So they had to come up with ways to discourage gun owner attendance and minimize the rally size.
They had already tried pooh-poohing sanctuaries, attacking VCDL in the press, threatening to bring out the National Guard to enforce gun laws, threatening localities with cutting their funding from the General Assembly if they became sanctuaries, and saying that guns would no longer be legal at the Capitol and General Assembly buildings.
One of the key attempts to scale back Lobby Day and to disincentivize attendance at local sanctuary meetings was when Senator Saslaw announced that he would change SB 16 to allow people to keep any “assault weapons” they already had, as long as those guns were registered with the state. Saslaw's hope was that would placate gun owners and they would go back to sleep.
Luckily, gun owners not only didn't fall for Saslaw's charade and go back to sleep. They only grew more determined to fight back against a government that seemed hell-bent on shredding the Constitution. Law Enforcement Today even reported that police officers were looking to join newly-formed local militias to fight back against unconstitutional laws! VCDL's membership meetings had become standing room only affairs.
RUMOR MILLS AND CONSPIRACY THEORISTS WANTED TO GET IN THE ACT, TOO
There was suddenly chatter on the web, and then in the media, of White Supremacists, Antifa, insurrectionists, anarchists, NAZIs, and other such groups attending the rally to turn it into Charlottesville 2.0.
Rumors were going around that guns would be banned in the City of Richmond and that the government was planning a violent confrontation with gun owners to discredit the Second Amendment movement. Doom-and-gloom predictions abounded. Enough to make many reconsider going to Lobby Day out of concern for their personal safety.
While some were certainly deterred, plenty were unfazed and determined to stand up to a government gone wild.
About Virginia Citizens Defense League, Inc. (VCDL):
Virginia Citizens Defense League, Inc. (VCDL). VCDL is an all-volunteer, non-partisan grassroots organization dedicated to defending the human rights of all Virginians. The Right to Keep and Bear Arms is a fundamental human right.
For more information, visit: www.vcdl.org.