“I just knew that Virginia (one of our sister states) was facing an imminent threat from her own elected officials,” one said.
In a photo posted Sunday on Facebook, two North Carolina state lawmakers are seen standing by a Dodge Ram truck, looking at the camera. The caption reads: “Rep Mike Speciale and Rep Kidwell leaving for VA 2nd amendment rally. See y’all soon in Richmond.” Both men have handguns tucked visibly in the waistband of their pants.
Reps. Keith Kidwell (R-79) and Speciale (R-3), as well as Bobby Hanig (R-6), will join what organizers estimate will be thousands of people at a pro-gun rally in Virginia’s capital on Monday. Organized by the Virginia Citizens Defense League, the annual “Lobby Day” calls for gun enthusiasts to come to the Capitol to advocate for their rights. Many feel their constitutional right to bear arms is at risk due to the newly elected Democratic state legislature, which has promised to pass a number of gun safety measures, including universal background checks.
The Defense League says it wants a “peaceful event,” but the FBI are working with law enforcement to address “threats of violence” they’ve deemed credible. Last week, Gov. Ralph Northam declared a temporary state of emergency, which allowed him to ban firearms on Capitol grounds. Several white supremacists were also arrested for allegedly planning violent acts during the rally.
Nevertheless, Kidwell told the News and Observer he felt it was important to attend Monday’s rally in North Carolina’s sister state to protest potential violations of the Second Amendment, which he believes include any gun regulations. Kidwell, Speciale, and Hanig were the primary sponsors of a bill that would have allowed North Carolina residents carry concealed handguns without a permit. (The legislation stalled in committee.)
According to Everytown for Gun Safety, 1,311 North Carolinians on average die from gun-related deaths every year.
“I just knew that Virginia (one of our sister states) was facing an imminent threat from her own elected officials,” Kidwell said. “The same people who had or would be taking an oath to uphold the very same Constitution they are now seeking to cast aside.”
“I also know that if they are successful in casting aside the Constitution there, it will embolden other of their same mindset to try it here. Know this, we the people will not stand for [wanton] abuse of our rights.”
Last week, Kidwell’s office released a letter signed by more than 50 members of the North Carolina Republican House Caucus in declaring their support for “Second Amendment sanctuary cities,” particularly those in Virginia, that intend to defy any gun restrictions passed by law.
The letter, which was also signed by Speaker Tim Moore and Majority Leader John Bell, reads in part that “the Caucus stands with Virginia, the Counties and Cities who have declared themselves 2nd Amendment Sanctuaries that will not permit a tyrannical government to restrict or infringe on those or any other rights.”
It also encourages the North Carolina counties who have passed resolutions to preserve gun rights—which thus far include Lincoln, Surry, and Wilkes—to “stand firm against any government that would seek to usurp the rights of the people.”
Kidwell, Speciale, and Hanig plan to deliver the letter to the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate members today.