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New Metal Detector Requirement Causes Long Lines at Virginia Capitol

people in line on sidewalk
Visitors including City Council member Stephanie Lynch wait to enter the Capitol (Photo: Alexander Broening/Sara McCloskey / VPM News)
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people in line on a sidewalk
Long lines for the public and staffers at the Capitol Monday Morning. (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM News)
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people stand in line on a sidewalk
Visitors wait to enter the Capitol Monday morning. (Photo: Megan Pauly/VPM News)
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*VPM Intern Alan Rodriguez Espinoza reported this story.

Hundreds of people stood in line at the Virginia Capitol Monday morning waiting to attend General Assembly. New security regulations enacted over the weekend by state Democrats now require all public visitors and state staffers to pass through metal detectors before entering legislative buildings.

Monday marked the first workday of the General Assembly session under the new rules. Alecia Jones left her home in Winchester at 4:30 in the morning to advocate for gun rights in Richmond.
“The lines were kind of ridiculous,” Jones said. “It wrapped around the building. It took around two hours for people to start clearing out.”

Door with sign reading "notice firearms prohibited"
All visitors had to go through metal detectors on Monday. Photo: Megan Pauly/VPM

Gun laws were at the forefront on Monday. Hundreds of National Rifle Association supporters lined up to listen in on votes carried out by the state’s Democratic majority.

“We came here and the line was so long that we waited until the line dissipated and then we went in,” said Victor Sorrell of Goochland. “To wait here and see a hundred people in line is a deterrent to go and talk with our people.”

Climate activists were also lining up outside the Pocahontas building, where many legislative offices are located. Joshua Vana of Shenandoah Valley stood outside the building in support of the Sunrise Movement.

“It is encouraging to see so many people show up on the street and so many people flood the hallways of the Pocahontas building,” Vana said. “I’d rather see long lines than an empty street with no one showing up.”

Kim Sudderth, senior organizer for the climate group Mothers Out Front, says she woke up early and drove from Norfolk to meet with state legislators.

“I wore comfortable shoes. I knew what we were in for,” Sudderth said. She says she waited in line for over half an hour to tell lawmakers why she supports Virginia’s Green New Deal Act. “That was inconvenient, but so is climate change, so it’s worth it,” she said. “Once we got in it was smooth sailing and we were able to visit with a couple of delegates and their aides.”

Aside from the metal detectors, the new security rules also banned all firearms in legislative buildings. A Capitol Police spokesperson said the agency is not releasing the number of people present at the Capitol Monday morning due to security concerns.