Virginia Citizens Defense League

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The Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL) was founded in October 1994 as the Northern Virginia Citizens Defense League (NVCDL). The group experienced growth in membership statewide and was incorporated as VCDL in May 1998. VCDL is a non-profit, non-partisan, grassroots organization dedicated to advancing the fundamental human right of all Virginians to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I Section 13 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The current president of VCDL is Philip Van Cleave. In 2018, he appeared on the show Who is America? where he instructed preschool children how to use guns in a fictitious show.[1]


VCDL had three lobbyists registered with the Secretary of the Commonwealth in the 2014-2015 year. [2]VCDL relies upon the voters in each legislative district to contact their legislators. VCDL focuses its efforts on promoting gun-friendly legislation in the Commonwealth, and ensuring that localities comply with state law.[citation needed]

The VCDL website provides a history of the organization's legislative advocacy and accomplishments

In May 2007, VCDL made news by organizing the Bloomberg Gun Giveaway drawing. The drawing was designed to help two Virginia gun dealers fight Mayor Mike Bloomberg's attempts to drive them out of business through lawsuits. The drawing was originally scheduled for April 19, 2007 at VCDL's regular public meeting, but due to the massacre that occurred at Virginia Tech earlier that week, the drawing was postponed until the next public meeting on May 17.

The Washington Post ran a series of stories on how Fairfax County politicians worked to try to stop the Bloomberg Gun Giveaway, including an article on May 16, 2007.[3] In August 2007, VCDL filed suit to compel Fairfax County to drop its efforts to declare the drawing illegal.[4]

Under the Gun lawsuit[edit]

In 2016, Katie Couric was an executive producer and narrator for the documentary, Under the Gun, examining gun violence and gun control in the United States.[5] The documentary was criticized for having an 8-second pause for "dramatic effect" inserted instead of the answer given to a question Couric posed to members of the Virginia Citizens Defense League. Couric posted a response on the documentary's website stating, "I take responsibility for a decision that misrepresented an exchange I had with members of the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL)," and she included a partial transcript of the response she received.[6] Later that year, the VCDL filed a defamation lawsuit for $12 million against Couric and the film's director, Stephanie Soechtig, for continuing to promote and distribute the film without correcting the pause.[7][8]


  1. ^ SHOWTIME (2018-07-15), Who Is America? (2018) | First Look | Sacha Baron Cohen SHOWTIME Series, retrieved 2018-08-13 
  2. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help); External link in |website= (help);
  3. ^ "Weapons Giveaway Might Be Illegal"
  4. ^ "Gun rights group challenges Fairfax decision on auction". Washington Examiner. Retrieved 2016-03-23. 
  5. ^ Katie Couric’s Sundance Documentary ‘Under the Gun’ Acquired by Epix; Variety; Laura Prudom; February 18, 2016
  6. ^ Message from Katie;; Retrieved June 2, 2016
  7. ^ Katie Couric faces $12 million defamation suit for 'misleading' gun documentary edits, FoxNews, September 13, 2016
  8. ^ Katie Couric and the First Amendment: Under the Gun, Larry Iser, Forbes, September 15, 2016

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