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Virginia braces for gun rights rally

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on January 21, 2020 - Duration: 02:18s

Virginia braces for gun rights rally

The top Republican in Virginia's lower house said that any group planning to incite violence at a large gun rights rally on Monday in Richmond should stay home, while far-right leaders of militias planning to attend swore they were coming in peace.

Zachary Goelman reports.

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Virginia braces for gun rights rally

Extra security on the state Capitol grounds as Richmond, Virginia braces for a gun-rights rally on Monday.

The rally, planned by gun enthusiasts angered by new moves to restrict firearms in the state has drawn support from far-right groups and prompted warnings from the governor.

Last week Democratic Governor Ralph Northam temporarily banned all weapons from the area around the Capitol ahead of the demonstration.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) VIRGINIA GOVERNOR RALPH NORTHAM, SAYING: "We are seeing threats of violence.

We're seeing threats of armed confrontation and assault on our capitol." The FBI last week arrested three men they say were members of a neo-Nazi group who had obtained weapons and planned to attend the rally.

Democrats took control of the Virginia statehouse last fall.

The state senate last week passed bills requiring background checks on all firearms sales, limiting handgun purchases to one a month, and restoring local governments' right to ban weapons from public buildings.

State lawmakers are also expected to pass "red flag" laws that would allow courts and local law enforcement to remove guns from people deemed a risk to communities.

Monday's rally is planned by the Virginia Citizens Defense League, a pro-gun rights group opposing the restrictions.

Rebecca Henson plans to attend the rally.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) GUN RIGHTS PROPONENT REBECCA HENSON, SAYING: "Under some of the laws I have seen proposed, practically any firearm that I own would be subject to, would be outlawed.

And I'm a law-abiding citizen who just wants to defend myself and also enjoy shooting sports." On Friday President Donald Trump tweeted his support for rally organizers, writing: "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." But the threat of armed far-right groups and public confrontation has invoked memories of the 2017 "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where white supremacists clashed with anti-racist activists and one member of a white nationalist group rammed his car into a group of protesters, killing a woman.

On Saturday Virginia's top Republican lawmaker said Monday's rally was QUOTE "not a place for hate or violence," and saying "white supremacist garbage" isn't welcome here.

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