Thousands are expected on Monday, Jan. 20 at Capitol Square to attend a massive rally in Virginia to express their dissatisfaction with plans by Gov. Ralph Northam (D) to impose strict gun laws.
According to NBC News, Democratic-controlled Legislature is proposing several gun control measures, some of which would limit handgun purchases and require background checks. The Defense League said it wanted a “peaceful event,” but law enforcement, the governor, and residents fear that violence will erupt as white nationalists and far-right militias from throughout the country are expected to attend.
President Trump tweeted on Friday afternoon, Jan. 17 as a call to join Monday’s rally, “Your 2nd Amendment is under very serious attack in the Great Commonwealth of Virginia. That’s what happens when you vote for Democrats, they will take your guns away. Republicans will win Virginia in 2020. Thank you, Dems!” he tweeted.
Last week, Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam issued an executive order temporarily banning firearms in Capitol Square. The order was upheld by the Virginia Supreme Court on Friday.
Northam claims that he has intelligence that some of the groups attending the rally on Monday will be intent on causing problems. Vice reported that antifa will be there too, but they claim that they will march with the pro-gun protesters.
On Thursday, Jan. 16 the FBI arrested three suspected neo-Nazis on the East Coast who were planning to attend the rally. One of them was a former Canadian army reservist and all were linked to a group called The Base that aims to establish a state populated only by whites.
Organizers and officials estimate that thousands will attend the rally. As of Sunday, no major counter-protest had been planned, and many anti-fascist groups were encouraging members to stay away from the rally at Capitol Square in downtown Richmond.
Gun safety groups also canceled their annual MLK Day vigil at the Capitol, citing “ongoing, credible threats to public safety that have been promoted and encouraged by gun extremists.” The vigil, which had been held for the last 28 years, was supposed to begin after the gun rights rally.