On MLK Day?

Thousands of gun owners, armed militia members, and others gathered at the Virginia State Capitol on Monday for a rally that protested new gun restrictions. An estimated 22,000 people attended the demonstration, according to the Virginia Joint Information Center and among the crowd were adamant endorsers of the Second Amendment, as well as those who say gun rights should have limits.

The Richmond rally was a part of Lobby Day, a push against gun control laws that the Virginia Citizens Defense League organizes annually. The rally also featured several speeches before on the lawn below the Capitol. This year's rally was particularly important because Democrats took control of the state's legislature and promised to make gun control a priority.

The irony of the rally was that it was held on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, a day that is supposed to be used to commemorate the life of the civil rights activist, who became a victim of gun violence, and all of his hard work for peace and equality. It is truthfully frustrating and a bit confusing as to how the topic of guns has become so divisive and igniting. The fact that a national holiday that is very important to our nation’s history is being used to fight for a weapon that has caused so much hurt and unrest in our country says a great deal about our nation.

While people were blocked from carrying weapons within a certain vicinity of the Capitol, many rally attendees walked with their guns in plain sight, wore camouflage and helmets, and a few dressed in Revolutionary War costumes. 

Maya Angelou once said, “History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.” This longing, by some Americans, for days of past is counterproductive to the growth of the United States of America. Time periods filled with slavery, segregation, and hate can no longer be the blueprint of this nation.

People chanted against Virginia's Democratic governor and shouted “USA! USA!" but, a country where people are shot in churches and children are shot in schools every day is not something to take pride in and certainly not why the second amendment was implemented. 

The FBI and other law enforcement agencies also made high-profile arrests of suspected members of neo-Nazi groups in three states last week because some of those members had discussed attending the gun rally in Richmond. Gun advocates claim to be protecting their rights but when these organizations make terrorists believe they have a platform, boundaries become necessary.

The rally ended without any violence, but Richmond remains under a state of emergency and Gov. Ralph Northam's temporary ban on weapons on Capitol grounds remained in place until Tuesday.