- - Monday, November 10, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

On its website, the Virginia Citizens Defense League states that the “VCDL is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, grass-roots organization dedicated to advancing the fundamental human right of all Virginians to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 1, Section 13 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia.” It seems the group abandoned this statement in the 2014 midterm elections.

In a postelection email to its members, VCDL President Philip Van Cleave wrote, “Ignore grass-roots gun owners at your own peril.” The email claimed that some VCDL members, in order to punish Ed Gillespie for not completing the VCDL election survey, voted for the Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis or did not vote the Senate portion of the ballot at all. The VCDL claims to have influenced past elections in the same way.

It is doubtful the scheme worked, since historically the independent candidates pick up 2 percent of the vote in most elections anyway. Nonetheless, Mr. Van Cleave seems proud of the VCDL membership’s self-serving voting practice that in the group members’ minds sent a strong message to Mr. Gillespie (and future candidates). If the group really did have an impact, it was only to re-elect Sen. Mark R. Warner.

The fact that the VCDL is taking credit for defeating Mr. Gillespie should worry gun-loving Virginians. Clearly, the VCDL was concerned more about its own relevance and its survey than it was about electing a candidate who would actively defend the Second Amendment as a U.S. senator. By endorsing “suicide voting” tactics over a survey, the VCDL is content with re-electing Mr. Warner, who has wavered on gun-owner rights in the past.

So, here’s my message to the VCDL: You are endorsing voting practices that place gun owners’ rights in peril. Such tactics are not for me. I’m not wearing your orange stickers anymore or attending your events. I have unsubscribed from your email list, and I will not renew my membership.

BOB WATSON

Woodbridge, VA


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