CBSNEWS.COM November 12, 2020 – In a cold winter morning last February, a woman named Samantha assembled her AR-15 semi-automatic rifle in the parking area next to Timbrook Public Library in Campbell County, Virginia. Her husband, Chad, had his AR-15 in hand and commented, “I would trust going into a gun fight right next to my wife. I’ve seen her shoot.”
Samantha was one of a handful of women attending the call for volunteers to join a group calling itself the Campbell County Militia. Along with Chad and Samantha (who asked to have their last name withheld), over 200 people were at the event, most of them carrying arms.
Kurt Feigel, a gun rights activist and militia organizer, told the group, “We are here today to send a clear and collective message to any would-be-tyrants that would attempt to disarm us: We will not comply.”
The formation of the Campbell County Militia is part of a larger movement organized by gun rights activists pushing back against gun laws Virginia enacted in 2020. They claim the new regulations, which include a “red flag” law and universal background checks for gun purchases, infringe on their Second Amendment right to bear arms. Virginia lawmakers shelved more controversial proposals that would have banned semi-automatic guns and high capacity magazines. Still, gun rights activists are bracing for a possible future ban.
“We won’t comply. We won’t give up our guns,” said Feigel.
Virginia became a battleground for the gun policy debate after Democrats swept both houses of the state legislature in 2019 on a gun safety platform, consolidating Democratic control of the state government.
Gun policy has long been a divisive issue in the United States. Even as support grows for stricter gun laws, the country remains deeply divided along partisan lines. A 2019 Pew Research Center survey found 60% of Americans think gun laws should be more strict, up from 52% two years earlier. But the same survey also found 80% of Republicans think it’s more important to protect gun rights than to control gun ownership, while just 21% of Democrats agree.
In Virginia, gun rights supporters pushed back against the Democratic legislative majority. Over 90 counties and municipalities in the state passed Second Amendment sanctuary resolutions opposing the enforcement of certain gun laws. And there were calls to form local militias to give their movement some “teeth.”
“If we have the numbers, we can back up the statement — we will not be disarmed,” said Feigel. “[The Second Amendment] is not about hunting. It’s not about self-defense. It’s about shooting tyrants in the face.”
The militia movement even garnered local government support in some counties. In March, the Campbell County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution backing the militia. Supervisor Matt Cline told CBS News via email: “The resolution was historic. To my knowledge, there has not been a constitutional militia recognized by a governing body since the Civil War.” [full article]