RICHMOND, Va (WDBJ7) Hundreds of pro- and anti-gun activists flooded Richmond Tuesday, seeking to pressure lawmakers in town for a special legislative session on gun violence.
The session was called by Gov. Ralph Northam after the mass shooting at Virginia Beach, and had gun control activists hopeful legislators might take action.
Some, like Mary Baylor, have been involved in the gun control debate for years.
"As a registered nurse, I've cared for far too many victims of gunshot wounds," she said.
Baylor joined hundreds of others around the capital bell tower Tuesday morning, including Gov. Northam.
As the names of gun violence victims were read and songs were sung , groups, including the NAACP and Baylor's organization, Mom's Demand Action, argued Tuesday was a vital opportunity.
"I think Virginians are ready for change," she said.
Later, gun rights activists held a rally of their own. Speakers, including a man who worked in the same building where the Virginia Beach shooting happened, argued more guns, not less, are the solution.
"The victims were my coworkers, my friends. And they didn't have to be victims," said the man, Vincent Smith.
But the mood shifted dramatically Tuesday afternoon. As the special session was cut short, gun control advocates like Al Durante were left feeling disappointed.
"Didn't have the guts to hold a vote," he said of lawmakers.
Meanwhile, gun rights activists like Bruce Jackson left feeling relieved, saying this session was a wake up call, and could drive gun owners to the ballot box in November.
"I really think you're going to see more voting," said Jackson.
Neither side is ready to concede defeat in this debate. And veteran activists like Mary Baylor say they're prepared to fight on.
"We would like short victories but we're in this for the long haul," she said.