Things to Do - Lobby the General Assembly

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We haven't heard from my friend Cathi in a few months about Moms Demand Action and common sense gun control. So here's an update - first read Cathi's post below and then MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD!

In January of 2013 if you had asked me to tell you about the Virginia General Assembly, I might have said it was a place that people had to go stand in line, maybe like the DMV! I was uninformed, naïve and living in my bubble, closed off from that part of the government, that for some reason I didn’t think had very much to do with me. United States Senators and Congressmen and women – now, that I sort of understood, but the Virginia General Assembly, what did that have to do with me?

It’s interesting too, because, in January of 2013 I also found myself sitting at my kitchen table alternating between hugging my young children so tight while I sobbed in the wake of the Newtown tragedy that I wasn’t quite sure if I would actually have the strength to send them to school that day, and slowly finding the angry, motivated voice that obviously lived inside me. The voice that asked, “Wait, WHY isn’t someone doing something about this?” You can read my past posts to see where that voice has taken me and about ways you can get involved on a Federal level (click here for info), and ways you can make YOUR voice heard through the places you shop (click here for more info) and choices you make. But today, I want to tell you about what the Virginia General Assembly has to do with me, and with you. And about what’s going to happen on Monday, January 20, 2014, and how YOU can DO SOMETHING too; even if you have never done something like this before. And no, it’s not the DMV. It’s so much easier (what a relief). I’ll hold your hand, I promise.

So who works at the General Assembly and why in the world is it important to me, and to YOU, and to your children and families?

The Senate of Virginia and Virginia House of Delegates members; these are the men and women that make all the laws in the State of VA. Who decides the Speed Limit? Who decides how old your children have to be before they can be out of a booster seat? Who sets our sales tax? THEY do! And guess what? They also can pass some pretty interesting laws that can affect you and your children and families as well. Did you know that over the past 5 years Virginia has enacted laws that have turned back the clock and eroded our laws? The Virginia legislature has passed laws to: Allow guns in bars (2010); repealed the 1 gun per month law that was on the books for 20 years (2012); eliminated fingerprinting for obtaining a concealed weapon permit (2012) and restricted gun buyback programs to make law officials put the guns back in circulation (2012). Currently, there are a number of proposed bills that we don’t want to see passed as well as others that we do want to see passed. So showing up in Richmond at the General Assembly and talking to your Senators and Delegates MATTERS! You can go to http://virginiageneralassembly.gov and learn more about the Virginia General Assembly and read about the bills that are proposed this session.

What happens on MLK Day, January 20th?

At 2:00 PM, at the Bell Tower (in Richmond) the Virginia Center for Public Safety will host a peaceful vigil to commemorate the lives of Virginians lost to gun violence each year and then hundreds of people, including members of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and members of other Gun Violence Prevention groups in Virginia will walk the halls of the General Assembly and lobby the lawmakers about bills that have come up. Virginia has a very short legislative session, one of the shortest in the country (Did you know that? A year ago I didn’t. The sessions run for 60 days in even years and 30 days in odd) so the window to act is short – and that window is now. January 20th, Advocacy Day, is the first day to make a big impact – and then throughout the rest of the session there is a need to return to Richmond, and walk those halls again. We need people to attend committee hearings and sub-committee hearings. This all sounds overwhelming, doesn’t it? But, let’s break it down – do you have 1 or 2 days over the next few weeks? The session ends on March 8th. Remember, you can bring your children – it’s their General Assembly too – make it a civics lesson. These are your elected officials, not just boxes on a ballot. Hold them accountable.

Check out the Virginia Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America here. To join us in Richmond on Monday, January 20, 2014, RSVP here and email virginia@momsdemandaction.org to let us know about your interest in future dates. Remember, children are welcome. You don’t need to be a policy expert to come!

-Cathi Geeslin is Regional Manager for DC/MD/VA/TN for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America - www.momsdemanaction.org (click here to read more of Cathi's past post on the issue).

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