They say all politics is local and despite the deep divide over issues and personalities, on a local level, we aren’t that far apart. Most voters on both sides of the aisle want the same thing — to protect their individual rights freedoms, while having the government help to facilitate opportunities where necessary. Though the issues may differ, this principle remains constant
This past weekend, I attended a meeting of the Fairfax County General Assembly Delegation, where they took public comments on proposed legislation for the upcoming 2020 General Assembly session. As this last election shifted the balance of power in the Virginia state legislature to the Democratic Party, this promised to be a contentious event, with significant gun control proposals on the agenda. Hundreds of gun rights supporters filed into the auditorium to let their voices be heard.
Although Democrats have listed gun control legislation as a top priority for this next legislative session, the public comments were set in reverse order, pushing all citizens who wished to speak on gun control to the back of a very long line, several hours after the session commenced. While this move appears to have been made to minimize the attention on the debate on this issue, by prioritizing the speakers on other legislative issues, they actually highlighted our common desire for individual freedom.
The climate change activists spoke. While initially greeted with groans and eye rolls over the doomsday predictions, when they got to discussing their desired legislation, they unified the room — to remove government restrictions on solar power. Virginia laws place limits on how private citizens are allowed to install and use solar panels, minimizing the financial benefit to going solar. The climate change activists weren’t asking for more government regulation, they were asking for less. They wanted the government to stop restricting their rights to obtain clean, efficient power.
The LBGTQ activists spoke. They wanted freedom to attend schools and live in the way that they wanted to live and reach their full potential.
Disability activists spoke. They wanted the government to facilitate the freedom of the disabled to reach their full potential.
The marijuana activists spoke, asking for increased freedom to use medical marijuana.
The education activists spoke, asking for the ability to provide the best curriculum to their students.
One after another, advocates for a number of special interest groups spoke, each asking for either less government restrictions on their selected cause, or for the government to step in and assist them in removing external or financial barriers. Several people spoke on a proposal to end gerrymandering of districts, chanting “I want to choose my representative, I don’t want my representative to choose me.” American voters of all colors, beliefs, and political parties continued to beat the same drum of freedom, with their fellow citizens from both sides of the aisle clapping for them, until it was finally time to allow citizens to speak on the issue of gun control.
The panel took a break and several of the legislators left, claiming that they had conflicting engagements in other counties. Those that remained milled about, publicly claiming to be ready to listen to the concerns of all voters, but privately harboring nothing but contempt for those who would stand up for their 2nd Amendment rights.
In an unguarded moment, two state senators were heard discussing “Are you going to stick around for the ‘Gun Guys?’ These people are crazy. Yeah just like little kids. Do you think they will stay calm? Yeah, as long as we don't respond to them. Yeah. We will get through this.” This unbelievable exchange was not only caught on a hot microphone but was also included on the video of the event posted to YouTube. All pretense that these lawmakers actually intended to listen to their constituents’ concerns was eviscerated.
I’m not going to repeat all of the gun rights arguments, studies, and statistics here, as they have been covered exhaustively in other articles and by the speakers in Fairfax County that the legislators ignored. Instead, I want to focus on how, for several hours, people of every persuasion came up to discuss their particular concerns about their own rights and freedoms, or those of their fellow citizens. Although opinions and priorities differed, everyone respected each other’s opinions and pursuit of happiness and clapped for one another — except for gun control. That was the one issue that causes part of the population to point fingers at another large segment of the population and say, “even though you are a law abiding citizen and you are not infringing on my freedoms, I want to take your rights and freedoms away.”
These moves are inconsistent with the values of Virginians, who cherish their individual freedoms, but seem to be fueled by the large influx of out-of-state campaign cash.
Michael Bloomberg and his various organizations dumped millions of dollars into Virginia just prior to the 2019 election and now the legislature is pursuing Bloomberg’s chosen agenda. But many forget that Michael Bloomberg has been at war with Virginia’s freedoms ever since he was mayor of New York City and sent undercover investigators down to Virginia to entrap gun shops. At that time, Virginians stood up to this outside meddling and passed a law, signed by democratic Governor Tim Kaine, outlawing out-of-state municipalities from conducting operations in the Commonwealth without permission and coordination with Virginia law enforcement. What a shift we are now seeing from a decade ago, from standing up to Bloomberg’s meddling to taking his money and allowing him to dictate the agenda, while ignoring and showing contempt for their own constituents.
As Americans, we do share a common belief in individual freedoms. It was the foundation upon which our country was built. With all of the important issues facing Virginia State legislators that citizens can agree upon, it is wrong for them to instead prioritize taking law abiding citizens’ rights away. You can save more lives by focusing on the opioid epidemic, which kills far more people than guns. Money spent on registration and confiscation could be better spent on education and programs for special needs children. Elected officials are supposed to represent all of their constituents, not just the ones who voted for them. So instead of focusing on oppressing half their population by taking their rights away, they should instead be focused on lifting the entire population up.
After all, the preamble to the Constitution makes clear that the goal is to “establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”
Timothy Parlatore is a Navy veteran and prominent trial attorney. He is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, he served as a Surface Warfare Officer and deployed twice in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He later commanded a Naval Security Forces detachment and worked as an admissions liaison officer for the U.S. Naval Academy. He is the Founder and Managing Partner of the Parlatore Law Group and his legal practice focuses on constitutional issues, white collar investigations and defense, as well as complex civil litigation. He has tried several high-profile cases in New York City and now represents clients in jurisdictions across the country. He brings a unique perspective to issues that is a blend of his experiences as a military officer and a constitutional lawyer, always guided by his oath to support and defend the Constitution. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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