Warren Fiske
By Warren Fiske December 17, 2019

Would a Virginia bill really ban dads from teaching sons how to use hunting rifles?

A prolific conspiracy theorist is sounding a "TYRANNY ALERT" about a bill introduced in the state Senate that he claims would ban firearms training and martial arts instruction in Virginia.

"It would even criminalize a father teaching his own son how to use a hunting rifle," wrote Mike Adams in a Nov. 27, 2019 post on NewsTarget, one of several websites he operates that are anti-vaccine, critical of science, and promote guns and survivalism. 

Adams is based in Cody,  Wyo. In June 2019, Facebook revoked an Adams’ page promoting alternative medicine for violating spam rules. The page, called NaturalNews, reportedly had 2.9 million Facebook likes.

Adam’s recent post on Virginia centers on a bill recently introduced by state Sen. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth, that would add restrictions to Virginia’s paramilitary activities laws. Passed in 1987, the laws make it a felony to assemble - or teach how to assemble - guns, explosives or incendiary devices with the intention of abetting civil disorder. Violators face a maximum 10 years in prison and $2,500 fine.

Lucas’ bill would also make it a felony for people to gather "with the intent of intimidating any person or group of persons by drilling, parading, or marching with any firearm, any explosive or incendiary device, or any components or combination thereof." It comes after the August 2017 white supremicist rally in Charlottesville that left one counterprotestor dead and others injured. 

Adams wrote that the bill, in addition to banning a father from teaching his son how to hunt with a rifle, "would also criminalize all firearms training classes, including concealed carry classes."

He added, "The law would instantly transform all martial arts instructors into criminal felons."  

In fact, the legislation would do none of these things.

Lucas’ bill, as we noted, adds to the list of illegal acts and Virginia’s paramilitary laws. But it leaves intact the next section of the code, which which exempts from paramilitary laws:

  • *"Any activity, undertaken without knowledge of or intent to cause or further a civil disorder, which is intended to teach or practice self defense or self-defense techniques such as karate clubs..."

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  • *"Lawful activities related to firearms instruction or training intended to teach the safe handling and use of firearms." 

  • *"Lawful sports or activities related to the individual recreational use or possession of firearms."

We tried to contact Adams, but received no reply to three emails sent to an address on one of his websites for media inquiries. A person answereing the phone in Adams' media relations office, who didn’t give her name, told us "there probably won’t be a response."

It should be noted that Lucas introduced identical bills in each of the last two years that were killed in Republican-controlled Senate committees. GOP senators voiced concern that the bill would be hard to enforce and might violate citizens’ constitutional right to assemble. Videos of the hearings show no one raising concerns that the bill would affect firearms training or self-defense instruction.

The bill may face better prospects this year, with Democrats controlling both chambers of the General Assembly for the first time this century. Attorney General Mark Herring, a Democrat, has endorsed the legislation.

Our ruling

Adams wrote that a bill in the General Assembly "would criminalize a father teaching his own son how to use a hunting rifle."

That’s flat out wrong. The bill would add a clause to the state’s paramilitary laws making it a felony for groups to train or march with weapons with "the intent of intimidating others." The bill, however, does not change a code section that exempts from the paramilitary act "lawful activities related to firearms instruction."

Another ridiculous Adams’ claim: The bill "would instantly transform all martial arts instructors into criminal felons." State paramilitary laws specifically exempt common efforts to  "teach or practice self defense or self-defense techniques such as karate clubs."

Adam’s claims are devoid of truth and inflammatory. We rate them "Pants on Fire."

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Would a Virginia bill really ban dads from teaching sons how to use hunting rifles?

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