Gun rights advocates interrupted speakers frequently with boos, shouts and chants as the Fairfax County state legislative delegation held its traditional public forum on Jan. 4, four days in advance of the opening of the General Assembly this Wednesday.
Gun supporters, many with orange “Guns Save Lives” stickers, were prominent in the audience at the Fairfax County Government Center auditorium and staged a number of noisy interruptions in order to demonstrate their opposition to gun control measures likely to be introduced by the newly formed Democratic majority in both the state Senate and the House of Delegates.
Gun control is shaping up to be one of the most contentious issues in the upcoming legislative session, which runs in Richmond from Jan. 8 to Mar. 7. Rural counties in several parts of the Commonwealth have declared themselves “second amendment sanctuaries.” More ominously, gun supporters are urging thousands of armed protesters, even outside state borders, to descend on the state capital to stop passage of gun control bills, according to The Washington Post (link to story here).
The Fairfax County legislative delegation is expected to lead the effort to reform gun laws, as it is the state’s largest, with 26 members, all Democrats, and includes the Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (dist. 35) and the House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (dist. 41).
Gun supporters in the audience interrupted presentations by members of the public who had pre-registered for 3-minute slots to present their points of view on key issues. However even the gun advocates grew hushed as Grace Reef, representing Child Care Aware of Virginia, told the story of a four year old killed after accessing an unlocked gun in his care provider’s home. Reef called for enhanced gun safety measures at child care establishments.
Besides guns, major topics from the more than 100 individuals and groups who had pre-registered to speak, included:
- Funding and improvements to social services
- Climate change and environmental protections
- Redistricting to end gerrymandering
- Passage of the Equal Rights Amendment
Presentations also were made on public employee collective bargaining, transgender rights, and animal welfare.
Readers interested in learning about bills pre-filed for the 2020 session, and tracking their process through the session, will find the General Assembly’s legislative information system a useful source — here.
Main photo: Fairfax County legislators prepare to hear views from the public on key issues to prepare them for the legislative session opening in Richmond on Wednesday, Jan. 8
Reporting and photos by Susan Laume
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