Virginia governor bans guns from state capitol ahead of pro-gun rally

Laverne Higgins
January 16, 2020

Days before a gun rights protest that is set to take place this weekend at the Virginia Capitol, Gov. Ralph Northam declared an emergency, which will ban protesters from entering the grounds around the Capitol with firearms. Later, he expressed concern about "another incident like the one we saw in Charlottesville", where a white nationalist killed an anti-fascist protester in 2017 at a chaotic rally in which racist groups fought in the streets with counter-protesters.

"Please know that we have been preparing extensively to protect public safety at Monday's rally", said Northam.

On official, speaking to the news agency, cited a posting that included a photo of an AR-15 and said there are "great sight angles from certain buildings" near Capitol Square.

Monday, Martin Luther King Day, is when a gun rights rally is scheduled to be held in Richmond.

Representatives for the VCDL didn't immediately return messages for comment. "We are going to pass common-sense legislation that will keep guns out of risky hands and keep Virginia safer". Many counties in Virginia have enacted "second amendment sanctuary" laws, also in response to Democratic proposals. Gun owners are descending on local government offices to demand they establish sanctuaries for gun rights. "Intelligence shows the threat of armed militia groups storming our capitol", he added.

The Oath Keepers, a national organization of current and former military and law enforcement officials described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as one of the largest anti-government groups in the country, called on members to travel to Virginia to attend the lobby day and said that they also meant to train local activists.

The event, hosted by Virginia Citizens Defense League, is expected to draw thousands of armed demonstrators, some from out of state.

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Democrats in Virginia have made statements that have only increased tensions.

On Friday, the now Democrat-controlled Virginia Legislature reversed a decades-old policy and banned citizens from carrying firearms in the capitol and legislative office buildings. Asked directly about the confiscation, Northam "refused", the Washington Post reported at the time.

"I believe them when they say this is a peaceful event - that's what democracy is", Northam said.

"We're seeing threats of violence", the governor said. I don't have a final plan today.

"No, ma'am, not at this point", said Northam.

On January 14, 2020, the Associated Press received a tip that Northam was going to declare a ban on firearms prior to the pro-Second Amendment rally.

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