Advocates in gun debate converge on Capitol Square
BY MARKUS SCHMIDT Richmond Times-Dispatch
Less than six week after the shooting at a Connecticut elementary school that left 20 children and six adults dead, advocates on both sides of the gun debate are on Capitol Square on Lobby Day to make their case to lawmakers.
This afternoon, groups seeking further restrictions will lobby at the Bell Tower in Capitol Square to remember victims of gun violence.
This morning, gun-rights advocates gathered around the Capitol and the General Assembly Building to protest recent legislative efforts to impose further regulations on gun owners.
“Some folks want to talk about more gun control using tragedies like the Sandy Hook shooting, but that’s missing the issue,” said Russell Fisher, a Vietnam veteran and retired law enforcement officer from Dumfries in Prince William County.
“Legislating inanimate objects doesn’t make much sense. We need to legislate criminal behavior,” he said.
Matthew Maddelena of Woodbridge said that banning assault rifles would be the wrong approach, because “these weapons are not involved in a lot of crimes.”
Maddelena said that such legislation would only punish responsible licensed gun owners like himself. “I’ve had guns in my house since I was a child and nobody was ever shot,” he said.
Supporters of more gun regulation were not yet visible around the Capitol this morning. They may have already lost their battle last week when Senate and House panels scrapped a number of bills that would have banned sales of assault-style weapons and large magazines and would have required background checks on all sales.
A proposal that would compel private sellers at gun shows to use licensed dealers to sell their firearms is pending, but chances for such legislation to pass remain slim.
Bob Sadtler of Richmond, gun show coordinator with the Virginia Citizens Defense League, said that legislation aimed at closing this so called “gun show loophole” would have the opposite effect.
“Gun shows are not attractive to criminals because they don’t do business in front of cops and witnesses,” he said. “If this law passes, private sellers will take their business outside into the parking lot. For a criminal, this will turn a gun show sale from a risk into an opportunity,” Sadtler said.