Virginia Governor Declares State Of Emergency Ahead Of Pro-Gun Rally

Gov. Ralph Northam

A massive rally has been planned for weeks in Richmond on January 20 to protest a series of proposed gun bills that are being considered in the General Assembly, including bans on "assault weapons" (one of which was already pulled by its sponsor), red flag laws, and universal background checks.

The governor of the USA state of Virginia, Ralph Northam, has declared a state of emergency and temporarily banned all guns and weapons from the area around the Capitol in Richmond before a major gun-rights demonstration set for next week.

"We have received credible intelligence from our law enforcement agencies that there are groups with malicious plans for the rally that is planned for Monday", Northam said during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

On a Facebook page organizing the gun rights demonstration hosted by the Virginia Citizens Defense League, several commenters expressed frustration at Northam's move to restrict guns from the capitol grounds. State police are already making security plans, aiming to avoid a repeat of the first chaos in Charlottesville in 2017, when a march by white nationalists erupted in violence that led to the death of a protester.

Some militias and organizations known to be labeled as white nationalist hate groups by critics have indicated online that they will come to power in Richmond. The official cited one posting that included a photo of an AR-15 and said there are "great sight angles from certain buildings" near Capitol Square.

In recent years, similar rules banning weapons from public property have been put into place in Charlottesville on the anniversary of the August 12 rally. That means guns will not be allowed on Capitol grounds during that time. It begins Friday at 5 p.m. and continues until Tuesday at 5 p.m.

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You can read the full declaration here.

Northam's planned announcement comes days after Democratic leaders used a special rules committee to ban guns inside the Capitol and a legislative office building.

Democrats have a full majority at the state house for the first time in a generation and have promised significant new gun restrictions, including universal background checks, a ban on assault weapons and a red flag law that would allow authorities to temporarily take guns away from anyone deemed to be unsafe to themselves or others.

Although there are clearly many opponents to the proposed legislation among Virginia residents, Democrats control the entire legislature, leaving little for gun rights advocates to do except mobilize and protest. One local sheriff even vowed to "deputize thousands of our law-abiding citizens to protect their constitutional right to own firearms".

"Unfortunately, they have released forces beyond their control".

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