December 4, 2019 News

Meet Philip Van Cleave, the gun extremist leading “Second Amendment Sanctuaries” push in Virginia


by Democratic Party of Virginia

RICHMOND, VA. – Recently pro-gun protestors in Virginia have been pressuring county governments to pass so-called "Second Amendment Sanctuary" resolutions. 

Even though polls show Virginians overwhelmingly support common sense measures like universal background checks, the Virginia Citizens Defense League and its founder, Philip Van Cleave, continue to push these resolutions. Van Cleave's recent time in the spotlight as the face of the "Second Amendment Sanctuary" push is a good opportunity to recap some of his antics over the past few years: 

  • Van Cleave is probably most famous for being so pro-gun that he was easily duped into promoting toy shaped guns for children as young as three years old for a segment on a comedy prank show. During the segment Van Cleave enthusiastically pitched the products to kids and celebrated that he was able to help defeat a bill in Virginia that would have prohibited children as young as four from handling firearms. VACDL members demanded Van Cleave resign after the episode aired, but he refused. 
  • After Omar Mateen, a domestic terrorist, killed 49 people and wounded over 50 others in a mass shooting at Orlando's Pulse nightclub, Americans rightly questioned how Mateen was able to purchase his weapons despite being on the FBI's Terrorist Watch List at one point. Van Cleave, however, saw no problems and argued that Americans on the Terrorist Watch List and No Fly List should be allowed to buy guns.  
  • In the wake of the devastating Sandy Hook shooting in which 27 people - including 20 school children - were killed, Van Cleave said that shooting a .223-caliber Bushmaster, the gun used in the shooting, was just as "fun" as driving a Ferrari, and called out the NRA for not being pro-gun enough after the tragedy. 
  • In a 2013 appearance on The Daily Show, Van Cleave was asked about common sense gun control measures and dismissed all of them, saying "none of it works."
  • After Republican Governor Bob McDonnell signed a bill that allowed concealed carry permit holders to bring loaded guns into bars and restaurants that serve alcohol, Van Cleave protested, saying the measure didn't go far enough. His issue with the bill? Gun-toting Virginians should also be allowed to drink in public while carrying their loaded weapons. 

"It's clear that Van Cleave is in a league of his own when it comes to gun extremism. From giving guns to toddlers to arming those on the Terrorist Watch List, Van Cleave's radical views on guns are not only dangerous, they're so extreme that comedy shows seek him out to express his outrageous beliefs. His latest crusade to push 'Second Amendment Sanctuary' resolutions is just another scare tactic to cover for the devastating loss Republicans suffered in this year's elections after they've done absolutely nothing to address gun violence for years," said DPVA Press Secretary Grant Fox

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