The Governor of Virginia Ralph Northam has declared a state of emergency and has declared a ban on guns in a push that is having a major blowback
- Governor Ralph Northam has declared an emergency ban on guns and weapons ahead of a major gun-rights demonstration
- He said law enforcement received ‘credible intelligence’ that militia and hate groups were planning to storm the capitol during a planned rally on Monday
- Gun-rights advocates have planned a ‘Lobby Day’ rally as they seek to block the gun control legislation backed by Northam
- Northam said he wanted to avoid the violence that erupted during the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville
Virginia has declared an emergency ban on all guns and weapons following ‘serious threats’ from militia and hate groups ahead of a major gun-rights demonstration that is expected to draw thousands of people.
Governor Ralph Northam, who is leading the push for stronger gun laws in his state, said on Wednesday he was enforcing the temporary ban on all weapons around the state capitol building in Richmond this weekend.
He said law enforcement had received ‘credible intelligence’ that the militia and hate groups were planning to storm the capitol building during a planned rally on Monday.
Gun-rights advocates, including the militia groups and ultraconservative activists, have planned a ‘Lobby Day’ rally as they seek to block the gun control legislation backed by Northam.
‘We’re seeing threats of violence. We’re seeing threats of armed confrontation and assault on our capitol,’ Northam, a Democrat, said.
‘These are considered credible, serious threats from our law enforcement agencies.’
Northam said he wanted to avoid the violence that erupted during the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville that caused the death of a counterprotester.
He said the threats included ‘extremist rhetoric’ similar to what has been seen before other major incidents like Charlottesville.
‘We will not allow that mayhem and violence to happen here,’ he said.
‘No weapons will be allowed on Capitol grounds. Everything from sticks and bats to chains and projectiles…. The list also includes firearms.
‘It makes no sense to ban every other weapon but allow firearms when intelligence shows that armed militia groups plan to storm the Capitol.’
Several measures – including universal background checks and ‘red flag’ laws – that would toughen gun laws in the state are quickly making their way through the Senate and House, and could be passed before the end of the month.
The Virginia Citizens Defense League, which is organizing the rally, hopes that a large turnout by gun-rights proponents will persuade lawmakers not to back the measures.
Some people who plan to attend the rally have already vowed to still openly carry their weapons – as allowed by state law – despite Northam’s temporary ban.
Authorities said everyone attending the rally will be required to enter through a security checkpoint.
Last week, Virginia lawmakers approved a new gun policy prohibiting firearms inside the Capitol and a nearby office building.
But they did not extend the ban to Capitol Square, the public space outside that includes monuments to prominent Virginians and the Virginia Civil Rights Memorial.