On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Virginia Gun Group to Rally for Concealed Weapons

Civil Rights Leader Spoke Out in Opposition to "Weapons of Violence for Personal Protection" RICHMOND, Va. , Jan. 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Members of the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL) will be meeting at the State Capitol in...

Civil Rights Leader Spoke Out in Opposition to "Weapons of Violence for Personal Protection"

RICHMOND, Va. , Jan. 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Members of the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL) will be meeting at the State Capitol in Richmond on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to rally for the elimination of existing gun regulations and the repeal of laws that have prohibited concealed carry permit holders from bringing handguns into schools, churches, government buildings, restaurants and other places of public gathering in the Commonwealth. The holiday commemorates the birthdate of the great civil rights leader and proponent of nonviolence.

During his life, King spoke out forcefully against the necessity of carrying weapons for self-protection. After his house was bombed in January 1968 , King wrote the following in his autobiography:

"Many of the officers of my church and other trusted friends urged me to hire a bodyguard and armed watchmen for my house ... In order to satisfy the wishes of these close friends and associates, I decided to consider the question of an armed guard. I went down to the sheriff's office and applied for a license to carry a gun in the car; but this was refused. Meanwhile I reconsidered. How could I serve as one of the leaders of a nonviolent movement and at the same time use weapons of violence for my personal protection? [My wife] Coretta and I talked the matter over for several days and finally agreed that arms were no solution. We decided then to get rid of the one weapon we owned ... I was much more afraid in Montgomery when I had a gun in my house ... Had we become distracted by the question of my safety we would have lost the moral offensive and sunk to the level of our oppressors."

King also famously said, "Nonviolence means not only avoiding external physical violence but also internal violence of the spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, you refuse to hate him."

The VCDL has made no acknowledgement of the holiday in communications to members other than to note that parking in the streets surrounding the General Assembly Building will be free on Monday. The site of the VCDL rally, the Bell Tower on the State Capitol Grounds, has been used by the Virginia Center for Public Safety, the Million Mom March, and other gun violence prevention groups during the past ten Martin Luther King Jr. Days to conduct vigils to memorialize and commemorate victims and survivors of gun violence in the Commonwealth.

One of the featured speakers at the VDCL rally is the executive director of Gun Owners of America, Larry Pratt . In a 2003 article entitled "Why Blacks Tend to Support Gun Control," Pratt made a thinly veiled attack on King, stating, "Hatred is the 'glue' that has been used by many black leaders--preachers and politicians alike--to keep blacks on the plantation ... Not surprisingly, one of the elements of the liberal worldview supported by many blacks is opposition to self-defense. Indeed, most black politicians are gun-bashing anti-Second Amendment zealots." Also appearing as a speaker at the rally is Virginia State Senator Ken Cuccinelli (R- Fairfax ).

"It is ironic that the day set aside to commemorate Dr. King--who died at the hands of a gunman--has been chosen by the VCDL to celebrate their goal of overturning the few existing sensible restrictions on gun ownership and eliminating the last few places in our society that guns have not yet permeated," said Richmond Million Mom March President Andy Goddard , whose son, Colin, was seriously wounded during the mass shooting at Virginia Tech.

"Dr. King was deeply committed to peace and non-violence," said Dr. LaTonya Wyche Ricks , Executive Director and CEO of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Family Life Institute. "It is clearly inappropriate to hold a rally that celebrates guns and 'justified' violence on the national holiday celebrating his birth and life's work."

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