Thirty gun-toting activists protested a public library’s concealed carry policy this week, startling the patrons inside by taking the demonstration — and guns — indoors. The protesters had taken offense to a single sentence explaining the rule: “Carrying concealed weapons is prohibited, except as permitted by law.”
Philip Van Cleave, the organizer of the protest and President of Virginia Citizens Defense League, compared the library’s gun “discrimination” to racially discriminating against African-Americans:
“What if they had said “We don’t allow African-Americans, except if allowed by law. Would that be okay? I don’t think so… [The rule] implies that no one is allowed to protect themselves on the property.”
Another protester told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that public areas shouldn’t be firearm-free, and suggested that if people had been armed during the Colorado movie theater shooting, the mass murderer would have been stopped.
Gun regulation in Virginia is weak enough to permit gun owners to carry almost anywhere they would like, including openly in parks, in grocery stores, and the very library the group protested. This summer Virginia voted to further weaken its gun regulation, repealing the law against purchasing more than one handgun per month and weakening criminal background checks for concealed gun permits.