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With Virginia Facing Huge Gun Rally, Trump Tweets

Organizers call for tens of thousands to carry guns into Richmond on Monday
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 18, 2020 2:30 PM CST
With Virginia on Edge, Trump Fires Off a Tweet
Barriers are set up at the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2019, in anticipation of a rally by a large number of gun-rights backers on Monday.   (Joe Mahoney/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)

(Newser) – Tensions are rising over a pro-gun-rights rally scheduled for Monday at the Virginia State Capitol, Reuters reports. The rally's organizers, the Virginia Citizens Defense League, are urging 10,000 people to attend without guns in compliance with an emergency ban imposed by Gov. Ralph Northam last week; they're also asking tens of thousands more to bring guns and stand just outside the rally grounds. "For every one gun owner on the Capitol grounds, we need another two to five people outside," the group said in a Friday statement. "Those doing so can be legally armed." In other developments:

  • Trump tweet: "Your 2nd Amendment is under very serious attack in the Great Commonwealth of Virginia," the president tweeted. "That's what happens when you vote for Democrats, they will take your guns away."

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  • Virginia laws: The state Senate passed bills Thursday limiting residents to one handgun purchase per month, demanding background checks on firearm sales, and allowing the government to prohibit weapons in public buildings and other locations. Virginia Democrats took over the House and Senate in November, the New York Times recalls.
  • 3 arrests: The arrest of three suspected white supremacists Thursday is apparently connected to the Richmond rally. Northam said Wednesday that "credible evidence" suggests hate groups and armed militias will attend the event and possibly try to spark civil unrest, per NBC News.
  • Militia: "I'll be rolling into town early," said Christian Yingling, who heads the Pennsylvania Light Foot Militia and helped lead the 2017 Charlottesville rally. "I can't give you my exact time for security reasons." Yingling is among those who signed decrees never to show up armed in Charlottesville again, but that restriction doesn't apply to Richmond, per the Washington Post.
  • Open carry: One Virginia city official sparked controversy by showing up at a city council meeting with an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle, Fox News reports. The Portsmouth Councilman, Nathan Clark, carried the weapon in opposition to Virginia's gun-control efforts and said "no one appeared intimidated."
  • Misunderstanding: The state's only socialist lawmaker says he's received death threats after pro-gun activists misunderstood a bill he introduced that would let school teachers strike without losing their jobs, the Guardian reports. The lawmaker, Lee Carter, says he's now carrying a gun to protect himself.
  • Polling: Yet polling shows most Virginians are in support of gun control, per Slate. A December poll showed 86% in favor of universal background checks, while 73% are said to support "red flag" laws designed to keep the mentally ill from accessing firearms.
(Virginia Democrats made headlines with another vote this week.)

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