Disturbing news out of Virginia in the war on guns front. The Common Sense Show often stretches things just a wee bit, but this might be the real deal.
It isn’t just an infringement on multiple constitutional rights, it is badly written law that offers opportunities to anyone, especially prosecuting attorneys, to make life miserable for gun owners in the Old Dominion.
A change to an existing (and already problematic) law would make it a felony to carry a weapon (openly or concealed) when protesting or just walking down the street, if there is an “intent” to “intimidate” a person or group.
What we have is a bill proposed in the new, more statist than ever, Virginia General Assembly. Senate Bill 64 states in part:
§18.2-433.2. Paramilitary activity prohibited; penalty.
A person shall be is guilty of unlawful paramilitary activity, punishable as a Class 5 felony if he:
1. Teaches or demonstrates to any other person the use, application, or making of any firearm, explosive, or incendiary device, or technique capable of causing injury or death to persons, knowing or having reason to know or intending that such training will be employed for use in, or in furtherance of, a civil disorder; or
2. Assembles with one or more persons for the purpose of training with, practicing with, or being instructed in the use of any firearm, explosive, or incendiary device, or technique capable of causing injury or death to persons, intending to employ such training for use in, or in furtherance of, a civil disorder; or
3. Assembles with one or more persons with the intent of intimidating any person or group of persons by drilling, parading, or marching with any firearm, any explosive or incendiary device, or any components or combination thereof.
Now, “intent” is always hard to prove – and hard to disprove, as well. But notice the exact language here: “for use in… a civil disorder.” I don’t know what Virginia’s definition of a “civil disorder” is, but I would assume it would include protests, riots, and the looting and such that often associates such events. Even if those themselves are criminal acts. (After all, until they are actually accused, tried, and convicted, those looting, raping, stealing, or destroying property are just “persons of interest,” right?)
And “any components or combination thereof” is pretty broad, too. If you are carrying a lighter and a piece of pipe, are you not carrying some components of a pipe bomb? And intimidation (as I’ve discussed in a recent commentary) is pretty broad, also. Is a protest march (a peaceful one) trying to get the legislature of the Dominion (or Commonwealth) to change a bad law intimidation?
It all depends on what the state-paid attorney argues, doesn’t it? And what he buffaloes (intimidates?) the jury into accepting.
But notice: SB64 just AMENDS this existing Virginia law: it is ALREADY illegal for you to teach, provide training, practice with, or demonstrate all these things! All the new bill does is ADD an new specification to an existing crime: assembling, etc. (Even if there is only one person “assembling” – like I said, it is a badly written law.)
Given that the first two paragraphs are already law, why haven’t Virginians who teach their sons (and daughters) all these things – who have already demonstrated to one or more persons, been arrested? Why aren’t self-defense instructors stacked ten deep waiting for court dates to be indicted?
I don’t know know that answer, but here are some possibilities. Perhaps they fear a really bad response if they turn the heat up too slowly. And given the present makeup of SCOTUS, they fear it might get overturned if it gets too high up the judicial chain. (I don’t know the current makeup of Virginia’s chief court – that might also be an issue.)
But never fear, it is only a matter of time before some energetic district attorney in Virginia decides he or she can make political hay out of prosecuting an unlikeable, crude, rude, outspoken father or boyfriend for teaching someone how to use a gun where it can be demonstrated that it might be tied to some sort of civil disorder.
And if the law is amended, it doesn’t have to be an actual march or parade or “drill” that is a felony that some DA can get a conviction on. It is assembling (even if the “assembly” consists of only one person!), apparently to plan or practice for such a march or parade.