Virginia Declares State of Emergency Ahead of Pro-Gun Rally
The Virginia Citizens Defense League organized the rally and is expecting 50,000 people to show up and protest the proposed gun control laws by Democratic leaders in the Virginia General Assembly.
Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency in Virginia ahead of a Second Amendment rally planned for Monday because of “credible threats of violence.”
Gov. Northam also banned guns in Capitol Square from Friday to Tuesday, saying intelligence officials are warning of safety threats – including white nationalist rhetoric akin to the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, VA.
“Please know that we have been preparing extensively to protect public safety at Monday's rally. But no one wants another incident like the one we saw in Charlottesville in 2017," Northam said in a press conference on Wednesday.
The Virginia Citizens Defense League organized the rally and is expecting 50,000 people from in and out of state protesting proposed gun control laws by Democratic leaders in the Virginia General Assembly. Democrats recently took control of the state’s House and Senate, escalating tensions around possible new gun laws.
People hoping to join the Second Amendment rally in Richmond will now face heightened security at Capitol Square as they funnel through only one entrance with a metal detector. People carrying guns will be asked to leave, even though open carry is legal in Virginia. Pro-gun activists and some Republican legislators have been critical of the governor’s decision to ban guns at the rally, suggesting he might be making tensions worse.
Monday is Lobby Day in Virginia, an annual event that only coincides with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day because people have time off from work. Gun safety advocates also hold an annual vigil for gun violence victims on Lobby Day each year and will continue that tradition despite the state of emergency.
The FBI has reportedly arrested three people who were suspected of being part of a neo-Nazi group and talking about heading to the Second Amendment rally in Richmond. The men, two Americans and a Canadian, were reportedly armed and charged with a series of federal gun and immigration crimes. Authorities suspect they are part of a “neo-Nazi, white-supremacist network” called The Base, which has become a priority for law enforcement.