200 rally at Capitol for “common-sense gun laws”

Photo by Jazmen Townsend, VCU Capital News Service
Photo by Jazmen Townsend, VCU Capital News Service
Lawmakers, students and others spoke at the rally on Martin Luther King Day, calling for what Gov. Terry McAuliffe termed “common-sense gun laws.”
Many people attending the event held signs demanding immediate action by legislators.

About 200 people huddled on the Capitol grounds Monday to urge the General Assembly to pass legislation they hope will curb gun violence.

Lawmakers, students and others spoke at the rally on Martin Luther King Day, calling for what Gov. Terry McAuliffe termed “common-sense gun laws.” They also showed their support for President Barack Obama’s recent executive action to expand background checks on firearms sales.

Laurie Haas, state director of the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, kicked off the rally.

“Take a deep breath in honor of the victims lost to gun violence,” Haas said. “Every time you exhale, say a prayer. We will forever remember those who have fallen victim to firearms.”

Many people attending the event held signs demanding immediate action by legislators.

“Almost once an hour, someone dies from a gunshot wound,” said Charles McKeon, one of the participants. “Ninety percent of Americans want gun control. Legislators need to give us what we want.”

Photo by Jazmen Townsend, VCU Capital News Service

In Virginia and across the country, guns are a contentious issue. On Monday afternoon, several Virginians with concealed carry permits also gathered in Capitol Square to show their support for the Second Amendment.

“Firearms can be used to protect a life – my family’s life,” said Laura Johnson, a Charlottesville resident.

Lydia Mitchell, another gun rights supporter, agreed. “Having a gun makes me feel protected, and protection is much needed in this world we live in.”

The Virginia General Assembly, which convened last week for a 60-day session, is considering dozens of laws regarding guns. Some seek to restrict who can have guns or where they can carry firearms; other proposals seek to expand gun rights.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe closed Monday’s vigil by discussing his recent executive order banning firearms from state office buildings. He said he supports limiting access to guns by people who have mental health problems or previous felony convictions or are under a current protective order to stay away from an ex-partner.

“There is a law that says you don’t have to get rid of a gun you already own if you’re a felon,” McAuliffe said. “But you can’t buy a new one. Where’s the logic? We need common-sense gun laws here in the commonwealth of Virginia.”


 

By Jazmen Townsend, Capital News Service

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