VA-ALERT: Saturday's AutoZone protest - a referendum on gun control

Saturday there were two VCDL protests at AutoZone stores south of Richmond (news coverage below).

The first protest was at the AutoZone in Colonial Heights. We had around 40 volunteers holding signs or simply lining the sidewalk with Guns Save Lives stickers. Like Thursday, we had vehicle after vehicle honking and waving at us in support. Cars were pulling over and and their drivers asking what was happening. One driver yelled out his window as he passed, "I will not be shopping there ever again!" A state police officer passed by in his marked patrol car and gave us a thumbs up as he passed. Everybody that we told about AutoZone firing an employee who stopped an armed robbery in the store, was shocked and angered.

The local Hopewell newspaper reporter came by and spent a lot of time interviewing me and our members. Channel 6 also showed up, did an interview, and got a lot of footage. My interview was interrupted several times because I was being drowned out by honking vehicles!

We then moved to the second location in Hopewell. We had around the same number of volunteers and the horns were blaring, people stopping to ask about the protest, and some leaving the AutoZone parking lot without going into the building after talking to us. The support was really palpable. Two of our members went into a Bojangles restaurant next door to grab a sandwich. When they went to pay, they were told their sandwiches had already been paid for. Turns out that a lady standing in front of them in line heard them talking about the protest and she bought their lunches!

At one point I was walking through a Dollar General parking lot to get to my car. An older black lady was in her car and opened the door and called me over as I passed by. This, I thought, could be an interesting conversation. I said, "Yes, ma'am. What can I do for you?"

She looked at me, pointed at the Guns Save Lives sticker on my shirt and said, "Looking at that sticker on your shirt, I want to tell you that I've been thinking about the dead children in Connecticut. And I can't help but wonder, what would have happened if just one of the teachers had a gun?"

It was a fantastic day, with the volunteers happy they came.

A REFERENDUM ON GUN CONTROL?

As we set up to do the first protest, I was thinking that the protests would provide a really good measure of how people feel about gun control with the tragic events of Friday fresh on their minds. The outpouring of support for our message about self-defense and guns saving lives told me what I already felt in my heart: America is standing strong that gun control is not the answer.

Yes, the antis are busy dancing in the blood of twenty little children and we have a fight ahead. With people's lives and safety in the balance, VCDL will fight as hard as we must to prevail.

Shortly I will put out an alert about the massacre in Connecticut and the path ahead.

NOTE: With all that is going on in Connecticut and with the General Assembly around the corner, please be prepared for a much higher volume of alerts in the months ahead. Now, more than ever, we need to be a cohesive force in Virginia and Federal politics.

NEWS COVERAGE:

From Richmond, Channel 6.

From WTVR.com: http://tinyurl.com/cl5227z [VIDEO]

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – Saturday was National Bill of Rights Day, but in the wake of the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday that killed 27 people including the shooter, the discussion of the second amendment, our right to bear arms, came up at two very different locations in Central Virginia.

“Even though we knew none of them personally, we all hurt with them,” Emily Helt said. Helt helped organize the VCU Candlelight Vigil.

About twenty people at the vigil lit candles in honor of those killed and placed them in the shape of the letters “CT” for Connecticut.

Following the vigil, Helt joined many around the nation who think this latest mass shooting on American soil should lead to stricter gun laws. [PVC: Those super-strict gun laws in Connecticut didn't work. Gun control is a foolish and DANGEROUS waste of time.]

“I can’t trust people I don’t know to carry a weapon,” Helt said. “I believe that it needs to be a longer, stricter process to get a gun.”

Honks of support ring out for gun rights advocates Saturday morning outside an Auto Zone store in Colonial Heights. Those honks show just how divisive this issue really is.

Those advocates were there to protest Auto Zones in the area because of Devin McClean, a York County, VA, man who more than two weeks ago pulled out his own gun after an armed robber entered the Auto Zone McClean worked at. The robber fled, and McClean was fired for his actions.

At Saturday’s protest, the topic of gun rights within the context of the Connecticut shooting was on the mind of Philip Van Cleave with the Virginia Citizen’s Defense League.

“Those weren’t his guns [the shooter]. Those were his mother’s guns. Once he murdered his mother, yeah, then he had access to the guns. He could do what he wanted,” Van Cleave said. “Criminals and crazy people like that always get access [somehow].”

Organizers of the VCU prayer vigil have plans to raise money for the victims’ family, but as of right now, no details have been finalized.

As for the gun rights supporters, Philip Van Cleave said the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy is less about gun control and more about identifying those who suffer mental issues that would cause them to do something like this.