VA-ALERT: Blacksburg "Steppin' Out" event wanted to ban guns
FIRST, A LITTLE HISTORY FROM LAST YEAR
As you might recall, VCDL had a booth at last year’s Steppin’ Out festival in Blacksburg. That was the event where an intolerant anti-liberty bigot assaulted and battered one of our members. Much to the woman’s bad luck, the Blacksburg PD had a booth almost across from VCDL’s booth and an officer witnessed the whole thing. ;-)
PD took the anti into custody immediately, but the VCDL member declined to file charges and she was ultimately released.
It was made pretty clear to those of us in the VCDL booth that the antis who were pressuring the group sponsoring the event (Downtown Blacksburg, Inc.) didn’t want us there. (However, the people attending the event loved us, with the vast majority sporting our “Guns Save Lives” stickers. We sold out of tickets for a handgun raffle in record time, too.)
FLASH FORWARD TO THIS YEAR
Lo and behold, DBI had a new rule for this year’s festival: NO WEAPONS ALLOWED
Surely they didn’t add that new rule to keep VCDL out of the event? Naaaw, couldn’t be. But if they wanted the event to be peaceful, the rule should have been: No intolerant anti-liberty bigots allowed!
Oh, by the way, notice I said “HAD a new rule.”
Upon being told of the rule by EM John Wilburn, who is the primary driving force behind us having a booth at the event for the last two years, I contacted the Blacksburg PD. VCDL has an excellent working relationship with the PD. Basically I was told that it was up to the Town Attorney to let the PD know about enforcement of the proposed ban.
So, my next call was to the Town Attorney, Larry Spencer. I explained the issue to Mr. Spencer, asking how the Town could ban weapons in a public area under Virginia’s firearms preemption law (15.2-915). I also pointed out that such a ban would in essence prevent some customers from being able to patronize the regular businesses in the area. The local business would certainly not look favorably on the Town restricting customer access to their businesses!
Mr. Spencer was professional and easy to work with. He took the bull by the horns and arranged a meeting with himself, the PD, and DBI within a couple of weeks of our phone conversation.
Mr. Spencer explained to DBI and the PD that DBI could NOT ban lawfully carried firearms at the event. He also told DBI that if they denied VCDL a table, then VCDL could simply hand out its literature on the sidewalks or closed roads in the festival for free.
DBI relented and dropped their weapons ban. We will be watching to make sure that the ban does not appear in future advertisements or booth agreements for Steppin’ Out.
I am pleased to announce that VCDL's application has been accepted by DBI and we will have a booth again this year. We thank DBI for doing the right thing and look forward to another enjoyable Steppin' Out festival!
If the antis show up again this year to protest VCDL’s attendance at the event, hopefully they will keep their tempers in check and not batter anyone else.
Meanwhile put Friday and Saturday, August 1 and 2, on your calendar to attend Steppin’ Out (10 am – 10 pm each day). Let’s pack the event and have a great time!