Thousands of gun activists from across the country descended on Virginia’s capital Richmond on Monday to protest proposed gun-control legislation by the Democratic governor and legislature that they contend would violate their Second Amendment rights.
Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency last Wednesday because of a threat of “armed militia groups storming our Capitol” that bans all weapons, including guns, from the demonstrations on Capitol Square.
Three suspected white supremacists were arrested last week in Maryland and Delaware by federal agents after they threatened to open fire at the rally.
Police, fearing that white nationalists and militia groups will blend in with the thousands of other protesters, have restricted access to the Capitol to one entrance and warned attendees of hours-long waits in security lines.
Monday’s rally coincides with Martin Luther King Jr. Day when Virginians typically use the day off work to lobby their lawmakers.
The Virginia Citizens Defense League, which organized the event, usually holds a yearly rally at the Capitol attended by a few hundred gun activists and lawmakers who speak in support of the Second Amendment.
But gun-rights groups have urged their members to see Richmond as a threat to their Constitutional guarantee to bear arms.
Kem Regik, 20, arrived at the protest with a picture of a rifle on a white flag captioned “Come and take it.”
“I don’t like what the legislature is doing and I’m here to let them know that,” the private security officer from northern Virginia told the Associated Press.
Democrats, who won majorities in the state House of Delegates and Senate last November, have backed legislation that would limit the purchase of handguns to once a month, universal background checks on gun purchases and allowing local municipalities to ban weapons in public buildings, parks and other areas.
With Post wires