Virginia Protests Show How the Right to Self Defense Unites Americans

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Snipers on rooftops. Police helicopters flying overhead. Heavily-armed police wearing facemasks. A fenced off “protest area” where people are searched for weapons and body armor before they are allowed in.

This isn’t from a dystopian film or a third-world country. This is happening in America today. As this article is being written, up to one-hundred thousand protestors have flooded into the Virginia state capital of Richmond to protest a package of draconian anti-gun laws that have been promised by the Virginia governor, Ralph Northam.

How this event came to be is perhaps more important than the event itself.

Northam, along with a newly-elected Democratic majority in the Virginia General Assembly, wasted no time introducing a slew of laws seemingly copied directly out of the far-left playbook: Banning many of the most commonly-owned firearms in the US, “Red Flag” laws that would allow for confiscation of firearms without notice or even charges being filed, magazine bans, an allowance for allowing survivors of botched abortions to die, repealing voter identification laws; the list goes on. Proposals for every authoritarian law imaginable were filed with the General Assembly more than a month before they would even be voted on, but the Democrats had seen their chance, and made no bones about their taking advantage of it.

While these proposals ran the gamut of issues, from abortion to voter laws to gun control, the one that caught the attention of Virginians and the rest of the US the most, was that of gun control.

A battle of rhetorical escalation began almost immediately. Virginian counties and localities began declaring themselves “2nd Amendment Sanctuaries,” insisting that they would not comply with any gun control laws enacted in Richmond. Sheriffs from across the state went to town hall meetings and took to social media to declare that they would not enforce unconstitutional laws. The Governor responded with promises of “consequences” for those who refused to comply, with one Virginia representative suggesting that the state’s National Guard could be called in to help confiscate firearms. As the Sanctuary movement grew to eventually include upwards of 90% of Virginia counties, the Virginia General Assembly doubled down again by filing a legislative proposal that would terminate the employment of all law enforcement officers who refused to enforce the new laws, and would bar them from future employment in law enforcement.

The tit-for-tat continued, as Virginians began gathering signatures to recall the Governor, only to have the rug pulled out from under them as the General Assembly voted to more than double the required number of signatures, while lessening the time in which they had to be gathered.

Finally, the Governor declared a state of emergency for the coming protest, suspending Virginian and constitutional law that would allow protestors to carry firearms, citing intelligence about the potential for violence. “Intelligence” that at the time of this writing had not been made public. Even the Federal Aviation Administration did their part, declaring Richmond to be a temporary no-fly zone, renaming it a “National Defense Airspace.” All before these laws had even been voted on.

The mainstream media has done their expected part as well, uniformly referencing the infamous Charlottesville protests in every article written about the coming Richmond protests. Using this conflationary tactic, the media has gone out of their way to smear all protesters as racists, white supremacists, far-right, or “gun nuts,” explaining that the cautionary measures taken by Northam are in the name of “public safety.” The oft-used harbinger of death, “white supremacy,” has lost all meaning for most of the politically engaged, but still has its uses among the uninformed. If that doesn’t cut it, ironic cries of “old white right-wing gun nuts” can be heard from the fringes of leftist media, declaring all supporters of the 2nd Amendment to be crazed mountain men or rednecks that “cling to their guns and religion.”

But here’s the surprising thing: All any single person has to do to dispel accusations of racism is to turn on any of the dozens of livestreams of this protest. Their eyes won’t lie to them: They will see bearded men in woodland hunter’s camo, clean-cut men in business suits; average Americans with their significant others; people with their dogs; American flags, Trump flags, Gadsden flags, and Pride flags are all waving; black, white, Asian, Hispanic, Native American.

The right to self defense is the unifying issue of this country. It doesn’t apply to any one individual more than another. It crosses all races, genders, orientations and cultures. Every individual has a right to defend themselves. And that is what is under attack today.

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William Gadsden

William Gadsden is a libertarian writer and podcaster for the Being Libertarian and Think Liberty media outlets, covering everything from culture wars, law, economics, and firearms. You can find him on Facebook and Twitter, or listen to his podcasts on the Think Liberty Network.