A More Enjoyable Episode of Activism


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Leatherneck
May 15, 2008, 08:18 AM
In Virginia, at a tiny town council meeting, courtesy of Phil VanCleave:


On Tuesday night, 20 VCDL members and supporters attended the Boones Mill Town Council meeting. The capacity of the room where Town Council meetings are held is only thirty, so it was standing room only with about 10 members having to stand outside the building.

Five people addressed the Town Council about the sign on the Town Hall that says that those entering are requested to leave their gun in their vehicle before entering the building. Four of us spoke against the sign at th eTown Hall that requests guns be not brought into the building. One other person spoke in favor of the sign.

I spoke first, pointing out that government is to serve the people and that government should NEVER ask the people, even voluntarily, to give up a civil right. I explained that Muslims might make some people feel uncomfortable after the attacks on 9/11/2001, but that it would be unconscionable for the Town to put up a sign asking Muslims to please not enter the building as a courtesy to those who might be offended or frightened by their presence. I said that asking gun owners to leave their guns in their vehicle is just as bad, as it affects another civil right.

I then told them gun-free zones, like what the sign in question is trying to create, are dangerous. If a criminal enters the room and shoots the chief of police, who would be the only armed presence in the room, the criminal could then take his time and murder others cornered inside the room. (There is only one way in and one way out of the Town Council building.) I said that if other citizens could carry concealed handguns in Town Hall, then a criminal would not be as bold, worrying that perhaps someone else could be secretly armed and able to stop him.

After I spoke, member Paul Hennick addressed the Council. Paul said that Council members did not know him personally, yet they did not trust him and assumed him to be a murderer. And that, he said, was simply wrong.

Executive member John Pierce spoke third, doing an exceptional job using humor to keep the tone light, while maintaining the seriousness
of the topic. John said that even the sign REQUESTING that gun
owners not bring a gun into Town Hall was not legal. That, John said, is because Town Council is asking someone to give up a civil right under the color of law. The Town had also generated and printed the sign using the Town's computer, printer, and paper. Plus the sign is posted on the door of the publicly owned Town Hall.

After we finished speaking, a very contentious issue was brought up that generated some real fireworks in the room. That issue revolved around whether the newly elected mayor even lived in the town or not.

At one point in the malay, the Mayor said that VCDL had been dragged into what was nothing more than a political situation because there were people that did not like him as Mayor.

John Pierce and I set the record straight, pointing out that the VCDL is non-partisan and takes no position whatsoever on politics. All VCDL cares about is the "no guns" sign on the door of Town Hall - if that sign had been removed earlier, then we wouldn't have shown up that night.

After discussing whether the Mayor lived in the town or not, the topic came back again to guns. John Pierce and I were asked several other
questions by the Mayor and also by the Vice-Mayor. I did point out
that VCDL was not there to disrupt the Town's meeting, but to simply talk about the sign on the door. I said, however, that we would be glad to discuss anything they wanted to know about guns as long as they understood we would be doing so at their request.

The Mayor, showing a lot of interest, said that he and other Council members didn't understand Virginia gun laws very well. He said that the discussion was very educational and he appreciated having a chance to get some questions answered.

John Pierce offered to give a free concealed carry class to Council members so they could get a concealed carry permit and carry a gun for self-defense, if they so desired.

The Vice-Mayor said that she was a uncomfortable around people carrying guns openly. I said that even if the guns were concealed, it would still be the same people carrying the same guns. I suggested that instead of being frightened of guns, maybe she should consider getting a permit herself and getting the necessary training. She seemed extremely interested in the idea!

The chief of police, at the end of the meeting, spoke up and told me that the town attorney is the one who drafted the language for the sign and all the Chief did was to sign it. Basically it sounded like the Chief was stepping away from that sign.

Also of interest, the Chief upon hearing that VCDL was going to be at the Town Council meeting, went on the Internet and watched previous city and county meetings where I had spoken to get a handle on what VCDL was, how we handled ourselves, and what we were likely to say.

I left my business card so Council could contact me once they made a decision on the sign.

After the meeting, about 15 of us went next door to a Subway and enjoyed a meal and conversation prior to driving back home.

About half the people attending the meeting were from the local area.
We also had people from Richmond, Virginia Beach and Bristol!
Excellent job by all who spoke and my thanks to all the people who took the time to come out and show support for the cause.

Because Boones Mill is a very tiny town, many will question why VCDL would even bother to come there. The answer is that the rights of gun owners living in Virginia are precious whether they live in a small town or they live in Fairfax County. In fact, by showing that VCDL will not ignore even small towns which are breaking the law, we are sending a strong signal to larger localities should they consider doing something similar. Surely they will know that if we came to a town like Boones Mill to settle an issue, we absolutely wouldn't hesitate to come to a larger locality, like Hampton, in much greater numbers .

Here is an article in the Roanoke Times on the meeting. ***NOTE:
there is a poll in the middle of the article asking, "Should firearms be allowed at public government meetings?"***

http://tinyurl.com/6obkcv

:)

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bdickens
May 15, 2008, 08:54 AM
Good job!

rjohnson4405
May 15, 2008, 09:44 AM
Great work!

FieroCDSP
May 15, 2008, 09:53 AM
Nice work. Keep it up!!!.

hso
May 16, 2008, 01:20 PM
There's a lot to be learned from this example of a well informed, civil group go before a local government to urge them to change a misguided firearms policy.

Robert Hairless
May 16, 2008, 01:46 PM
Leatherneck, you and the VCDL have my congratulations and admiration. It's a textbook example of how to handle such situations so that everyone wins.

bnkrazy
May 16, 2008, 01:58 PM
The VCDL is an awesome organization and does very well keeping tabs on things in VA. We're very lucky to have such an entity.

t3rmin
May 16, 2008, 02:44 PM
Right on! We need a group like that out here in Washington State.

shofeur
May 16, 2008, 03:54 PM
Leatherneck,

What a terrific job of non-confrontational activism and education. This is an excellent illustration of how ignorance and fear can overwhelm an otherwise perfectly rational response to a situation. I particularly liked the response given to the vice-mayor about open carrying and her reaction. Hopefully someone will be able to follow through with her training and help her to realize that guns are not to be feared.

t3rmin,

Check out http://www.nwcdl.org. This is a new site, which was spun off by several people who frequent the opencarry.org forums. The intent is to try to create a center for information and activism much like the VCDL.

Regards,

Steve

M14/11B
May 16, 2008, 06:41 PM
Good job...I lived in Virginia when I was in the Army and sometimes wish I had stayed there.
M14

Standing Wolf
May 17, 2008, 12:43 AM
Thank you from Colorado, VCDL! You're setting a fine example for the nation.

IllHunter
May 21, 2008, 10:52 AM
You say no Glocks, I say give em to me! But we both agree, stand fast and defend the constitution, especially the amendment with teeth. BZ!:D

NC Dave
May 21, 2008, 11:19 AM
A tip of the hat to you, sir. Nice job!!!!

t3rmin
May 21, 2008, 02:00 PM
shofeur: Thanks for the link! I also frequent opencarry.org but haven't heard of that site.

bnkrazy
May 21, 2008, 02:37 PM
On the topic of organizations, there's also a recently formed http://wvcdl.org/ for those in that part of the country.

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