FAIRFAX, Va. – A Code Pink-led group of activists gathered out front of the National Rifle Association headquarters to call for an assault weapons ban in the aftermath of the mass shooting at an Orlando LGBT club.
Some protesters were arrested Tuesday morning at the end of the vigil that began Monday night.
Holding up hearts with the faces of the victims, activists went to the stage to protest the NRA’s influence in Congress.
“I would love to see that banned and I would love to see more people say, ‘you know we’re going to come together and trust each other and put our weapons down’ instead of, like, rushing to self-defend themselves,” one attendee told PJM on Monday evening.
State Delegate Barbara Favola (D-Va.) joined the group and thanked them for advocating in favor of stronger gun control laws.
“The Republicans who are defeating the reasonable amendments that were put forward are acting in a shameless way. I think they’re turning this into an election issue,” she said. “They’re trying to say, ‘well, if you accept any reasonable measure you are anti-Second Amendment,’ which is absolutely false and it’s very discouraging.”
One of the amendments that failed in the Senate was permitting the U.S. attorney general to ban any person on the FBI’s watch list for terrorist activity from purchasing guns.
“I cannot believe that together we could not figure out how to identify the people who should not be getting a firearm. I mean, we sent somebody to the Moon,” Favola said.
Chelsea, a Fairfax resident, said the NRA promotes a culture of “fear and paranoia” rather than the vigil attendees who promote compassion.
“The NRA promotes this idea that you need a gun for everything and they turn what should be a fist-fight into a murder,” she said.
A small group of NRA members held up candles and signs with the victims’ names across from the Code Pink-led event. One of the members said they were there to show solidarity with the victims and declined to answer questions from reporters.
George, a Washington, D.C., resident, said the amount of guns in America is “overkill.”
“It’s time to get away from this idea that we are this macho cowboy country and pack away the guns. We don’t need them. We really don’t. In terms of tyranny and the idea that government is going to come after us – we have to out-smart the government. We have to out-smart the problem. We don’t do that with guns,” he said. “Let’s put away these toys of violence and move to a more peaceful country and figure it out with our mind instead of our guns.”
According to Code-Pink member Rebecca Green, 19 protesters were arrested Tuesday morning for blocking the entrance to the NRA building.
“Protesters were arrested with the charge of ‘loitering on the highway’ as we staged a lie-in and then a sit-in on a section of the road blocking the entrance to the NRA. It is a class 4 misdemeanor that resulted in no jail time, but an $80 fine,” she said on Wednesday.