Gun Rights Activists Go Wrong

This past Saturday I attended a Richmond campaign event for former New York mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg. It was a packed event where, for the most part, everyone there was excited to see the mayor with the exception of those who were protesting for gun rights.

The protesters, wearing “Guns Save Lives” stickers, acted in a way that was more detrimental than helpful to their cause as they shouted derogatory words toward Bloomberg and those who were there to see him.

At no point did gun supporters who were promoting the 2nd Amendment attempt to have a thoughtful, civil discussion with those who may have a different viewpoint. Instead, they chose a path of bullying and harassing.

As Bloomberg supporters arrived, they were greeted with shouts from the gun rights activists who had gathered near the entrance of Hardywood Brewery. It wasn’t until Mayor Bloomberg began to talk, however, that they escalated their disrespectful “protest” by shouting profanities directed at the mayor and well within earshot of young kids (see video — language warning).

After being escorted out of the venue the protesters continued to behave immaturely and disgracefully toward event attendees as they left (video and video). There was no attempt to have a discussion with anyone, but rather shout and mock at those who attended the event (video).

There is a big debate right now in the Commonwealth about gun policy and the 2nd Amendment. Pro-gun activists who were at the Bloomberg event made no attempt to advance the cause of gun rights but, instead, made those who wore “Guns Save Lives” stickers look confrontational and intimidating.

Some of the international press who were covering the event expressed shock at the behavior of pro-gun activists and were surprised at how rude and disrespectful they acted.

It would be smart of the Virginia Civil Defense League (VCDL) and Phillip Van Cleave to denounce this type of speech and “protest.” Failure to do so only makes all gun rights activists look like bullies.

The goal of any group supporting a cause is to win more people to their side. Tactics used Saturday will only repel those who may be on the fence concerning gun policy. Debating the issue thoughtfully, calmly, and respectfully is the only way to have credibility, something that the “protesters” on Saturday lacked.

There needs to be a grand debate on gun policy in Virginia and the country. However, both sides must debate the issue on the merits, facts, and without malice. For those who don’t, the public and elections will hold them accountable.

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