Updated: May 20, 2020
"The 2nd Battle for Richmond" - that wasn't. Not in the traditional sense at least. Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. No violence. No arrests during the event (one afterward of a person unaffiliated with the rally). No white supremacists parading in the streets. Thousands of firearms and people in close proximity to each other...with zero issues. Many asked what my prediction was for the event. Weeks out it was simple: a cross between the Area 51 "...gonna see them aliens" party in the desert and the Bundy Ranch standoff. That prediction proved to be pretty accurate. The old saying of "More Guns = Less Crime" was apparent. Even more so was the utter debunking of the blatant lie of the radical Left: "Guns = Violence." The conduct of those present demolished that bogus narrative in spectacular fashion, as well as the claim of cynics postulating that nothing was truly accomplished for gun owners.
What was evident in every direction was posturing. Prior to January 20, 2020 Virginia's Governor Northam and crew ramped up rhetoric, invective, and pressure. Threatened "consequences", National Guard deployment, and harassment were flung like candy from a politician's parade car. The declared state of emergency triggered (pun intended) a massive showing of government assets and force. Leftists' drumbeat of fear mongering and false, divisive, rhetoric did produce one predictable outcome: everyday Richmond residents were unjustifiably fearful of those attending the rally. The unilateral insistence of citizens surrendering their right to bear arms, to be safe from unreasonable searches, and to be secure in their persons, places, and possessions was required prior to being allowed to peacefully redress their grievances with their elected officials. The day prior the governor amped up the pressure again by announcing entry numbers would be limited, but not to what extent. That was a state secret, apparently. The glaring visual of lines of Americans shuffling through rows of armed, masked, government agents - behind fences - was more reminiscent of Schindler's List than prior rallies at the Virginia statehouse. Governor Northam's hubris and disdain for his political opponents was so blatant that no restroom facilities were made available outside his freedom exclusion zone - except for the rows of Porta-Potties paid for by the event organizers themselves - the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL). The VCDL volunteers even picked up every scrap of trash and paper prior to departing. Apparently, the governor prefers the ambiance of California's rampant public defecation problem, which closely resembles his politics.
On the other side of the issue from the Governor and legislature were tens of thousands of rally goers from Virginia, and hundreds of others (including the author) from virtually every state east of the Mississippi River. The rally attendees' posturing was simple: a peaceful mass of heavily armed humanity the size of a large rock concert, or that of a small U.S. city. The first fifteen minutes after my arrival in Richmond the evening prior set the tone. The Indian hotel manager, the two 20-something dudes in the lobby (one mixed race, one white), and three ladies of Asian descent from upstate New York all expressed outrage, and the mutual purpose of going to VCDL Lobby Day. The hotel manager, "Nick", went even further. As a U.S. Army combat infantry veteran, his stated purpose was to continue to oppose tyranny - here or abroad - and prove once again that some of the greatest Americans are our most recent arrivals. He was taking six of his friends to the capitol the following day. When completing my booking, he said, "This hotel is FULL of guys with AR-15s tonight! That's fine by me." The truly diverse collection of other hotel guests that looked a bit more like a United Nations meeting than a Klan rally laughed in agreement.
January 20, 2020 dawned clear and cold, with wind chills in the teens. The emergency declaration created a chaotic parking mess for rally goers, Richmond residents, and business owners. The sidewalks of Richmond became more crowded the closer one got to the capitol, with a mix of attire from digital camo to business dress. The mood overall was jubilant but angry, defiant yet reaffirmed. Early on the absurdity of the unfounded political posturing by the Virginia government officials was "trolled" by a hilarious collection of misfits:
* Guillotine Guy
* Barrett 50 Guy (smiling all day) with Black Guns Matter Guys
* Kitted up dude with no pants (silky jogging shorts only)
* LGBTQ+ representatives
* Banana in Holster Guy
* Awesome Ladies
* Hong Kong Protest Flag Guy (LOVED IT, DUDE)
The list goes on and on...Daisy Red Ryder in Scabbard Guy, Naruto Runner, Big Iron on His Hip Crew (cowboy revolvers), M-1 Garands, etc . Yes, Virginia, it was a street party. There were no alcohol or drugs in sight of course, but it was definitely a festive atmosphere, and all that in the midst of one of the largest and most densely populated collections of armed American citizens in recent memory. The "official" estimate of 22,000 attendees is dubious, especially in light of the hotel attendance in greater Richmond the night prior (@26,000), plus buses and truckloads of VIRGINIANS pouring in that morning. 'Mom At Arms' boss Jill and her friend Edie bundled up to join my buddies in front of the Attorney General's office to deliver a couple of messages. The author was "open carrying" a sign instead of a rifle:
In the end, what had - and had not - occurred? No Klansmen or NAZIs were anywhere to be seen. If fact, the number of Confederate flags was about equal to the number of Hong Kong flags. Nobody was shot. Nobody had negligent or accidental discharges of any of the tens of thousands of firearms present. Police did not shoot, tear gas, fire hose, beat, or sic K-9s on protestors. The protestors themselves were quietly respectful of the police, but resolute in the outrages of the perceived civil rights issues presented. There were no physical attacks on police. Personally, it was ironic that in the commonwealth where my great x5 grandfather formed a company of Virginia militia and marched to General Washington's assistance, I could not freely exercise my rights in the very building where his son - my great x4 grandfather - served as a Delegate. Possibly the most telling metric is that rally goers of various races, religions, and openly carrying rifles (even excluding the elderly and out of shape) made up the equivalent of a fully equipped combat light infantry brigade, with two divisions of support personnel - literally on the doorstep of the Governor of Virginia, there were precisely zero reported violations of law, firearms safety, or discipline by VCDL supporters. What does that sound In like?
"A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state...."
Maybe, just maybe, on this day of remembrance for Dr. King, we were all finally judged by the content of our character, not the color of our skin. Whether legislators, governors, or judges agree with it or not...the unalienable, civil, constitutional, natural, human right to defend oneself from violent criminals and tyrants is a foundational principle of our Republic, and the Commonwealth of Virginia.
~Sic Semper Tyrannis~
*Author's note: the term "well regulated" in colonial times referred to being accurate, in proper working order, or well functioning...such as a clock or rifle sights. The notion that the Founders would advocate heavy regulations of the very arms which had just secured their freedom from tyranny is preposterous, uneducated, and unsupported by history.