Virginia plans emergency gun ban at Capitol ahead of protest

Hawkins Virginians Signal ‘Come and Take It’ to Democrat Gun Grab 3,603AP

Gov. Ralph Northam, D-Va., declared a state of emergency Wednesday and said he is temporarily banning individuals from carrying firearms and other weapons on Capitol grounds ahead of a scheduled gun rally for fear of a repeat of the violence law enforcement was ill-prepared to deal with at another rally in Charlottesville more than two years ago.

"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 in a press conference announcing the state of emergency.

But Virginia Citizens Defense League organizer Philip Van Cleave, the organizer of the Richmond rally, said the event will still take place. "But we must also keep the public, as well as those who work around Capitol Square, safe", Northam said.

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 declined to give exact details about the threats and the persons making them, but said that these groups, who were coming from outside of the state, talked about storming the Virginia Capitol.

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Legislative bills that the Northam administration is backing include universal controls on gun sales, a ban on assault-style rifles, and the adoption of "red flag" laws that would allow courts and local law enforcement to remove weapons from people who considered a danger to communities.

The lobby day is expected to attract thousands of people to the state capital, including members of anti-government groups from other states.

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.

Gun laws have become a dominant issue this legislative session and there's been a heavy police presence at the Capitol.

Republicans and gun-rights groups have pledged stiff resistance. Weapons are banned in certain parts of the building, which was designed by former President Thomas Jefferson, including the Senate gallery and the governor's office on the third floor. More than 100 counties, cities and towns have declared themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries and vowed to oppose any new "unconstitutional restrictions" on guns.

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