Owner of The Firing Pin brings his big gun to rally in Virginia and draws lots of attention
Brandon Lewis, owner of The Firing Pin in Bergen, didn't travel to Virginia this weekend to become a bit of a celebrity.
He just wanted to support fellow gun owners in a state facing potential gun laws as restrictive, or perhaps more so, than what has already been imposed on New Yorkers.
"In this day and age, we could never stand up against the government with all of their drones and tanks but this shows where we came from," Lewis said tonight during his drive back from Virginia. "The government is us. The government is of the people and by the people and for the people and it's good to remind them of that, that there is a Second Amendment, which is a kind of check and balance."
Lewis brought with him his Barrett M82A1 rifle, a .50 caliber semi-automatic rifle, which is nearly five-feet long and weighs 29.7 pounds.
"I guess it's a certain eye-catching firearm and that was kind of the point," Lewis said. "If we're going to go, let's bring something we have and I know every time I bring it out to the shop, everybody drops what they're doing.
"I didn't think it would be quite as popular as it was," Lewis added. "I thought I'd get some thumbs up and some high-fives but it got crazy at times."
As soon as one person asked to take a picture of Lewis, 10 more would join in, he said.
Lewis said he made the trip for two reasons: One is gun owners in Virginia are facing a new restrictive gun law that appears to have support of the Virginia Legislature (Virginia is apparently dealing with the same kind of urban domination of rural counties that has beset New York) and there is also a law that would all but ban indoor ranges.
Lewis, of course, operates an indoor range.
He said it's his understanding the law would either say indoor ranges need to be government-owned or that 90 percent of the customers would need to work for a government agency, such as police departments or the military, which, Lewis fears, would lead to range owners collecting data on users of their facilities that would then become data accessible by the government.
The rally was attended by an estimated 22,000 gun rights advocates and news reports indicate it was peaceful and without incident.
Lewis said he and his wife Anna-Marie were among the last to leave. As they were heading out of town, they listened to a public radio station that apparently has offices overlooking the public space where the rally was held. He said the announcers noted that the protest area was the cleanest they had ever seen it following a rally.
"We kind of took a Boy Scout attitude of 'leave no trace,' " Lewis said. "I don't know if that came from the organizers, the Virginia Citizens Defense League, or people just took it upon themselves but at the end, it was police-trash time and everybody picked up their garbage."
Photo: By Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury. Used with the permission of the Virginia Mercury.