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Massive Crowd of Gun Rights Advocates Peacefully Rally in Virginia; Antifa Stays Away


- January 20th, 2020
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Tens of thousands of gun-rights activists descended on Virginia’s Capitol, Richmond, on Monday to peacefully protest plans by the state’s Democratic leadership to pass gun-control legislation. Although massive, the rally remained peaceful throughout the day because local antifa groups had reportedly decided to stay home.

Anti-fascists from Richmond and Charlottesville publicly advised supporters to avoid the rally altogether, citing serious safety concerns. Molly Conger, a journalist and activist, told the Guardian activists in Charlottesville had agreed to encourage supporters to stay away.

“There is no counter-demonstration planned for the 20 January convergence of armed militias on Virginia’s capitol,” Conger wrote on Twitter on Saturday. “Conditions [on] Monday will not be safe. This is not an outcome we can affect.”

The rally was organized by the Virginia Citizens Defense League, an influential grassroots gun-rights organization with a long track record in the state.

The group holds a rally every year on Martin Luther King Day and typically draws hundreds of gun enthusiasts who rally at the Capitol and meet with lawmakers to discuss legislation.

The bills in question would require background checks on all firearm sales, allow law enforcement to remove guns from people deemed to be a risk to themselves or others, limit gun purchases to one per month, and allow localities to ban guns from public events.

Because of the proposed legislation, this year’s event was expected to draw a much larger crowd—and that it did.

A number of Virginia sheriffs attended the rally to show their support for the 2nd Amendment.

Estimated crowd sizes for the rally have ranged from 50,000-130,000 with buses arriving from as far away as Texas, according to the Washington Examiner.

Other groups protesting at the Capitol today included Gun Owners of America, Oath Keepers, and Three Percenters.

Seven men allegedly linked to a violent white supremacist group known as the Base were arrested last week and three of those men were reportedly planning to attend the Virginia rally.

While there has been much talk of  “white supremacist” groups and Nazis infiltrating the rally, there has been no indication of heavy involvement by any violent extremist groups.

The Virginia State Police, the Virginia Capitol Police and the Richmond Police were present at the rally to keep the peace, with some officers deployed on rooftops, and others patrolling in cars and on bicycles.

Although the rally has thus far been nonviolent event attended overwhelmingly by conservative 2nd Amendment supporters—not white supremacists—some in the media insisted on mischaracterizing the event:

“This is a lie,” said Townhall’s Julio Rosas, who is covering the rally on the ground. “As someone who is at the #VirginiaRally, I can say there are not “thousands” of “white nationalists” in Richmond,” he tweeted.

Ahead of the rally, Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam declared a temporary state of emergency and banned weapons from the area in front of the Capitol building.

A large number of rallygoers opted to stay armed and rally outside of the security zone.

President Trump tweeted his support for the gun rights activists rallying in Richmond.

“The Democrat Party in the Great Commonwealth of Virginia are working hard to take away your 2nd Amendment rights,” he tweeted. “This is just the beginning. Don’t let it happen, VOTE REPUBLICAN in 2020!

 

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