Female

Virginia gun rally: Thousands converge on Richmond

Thousands of gun rights supporters have converged on the centre of the US city of Richmond to protest against tighter gun laws in the state of Virginia.

Many arrived in the state capital openly carrying an assortment of firearms including assault rifles.

Security is tight and a cordon is in force round the state legislature, where guns cannot be carried.

Virginia's gun laws had been seen as permissive, but Democratic lawmakers passed restrictions in January.

This angered gun-rights activists, many making long trips from other US states to attend the rally.

The protest has raised fears of a repeat of the clashes seen in 2017 in the Virginia city of Charlottesville.

A woman was killed there when a neo-Nazi drove his car into a protest against a white nationalist rally.

President Donald Trump, with an eye on this year's presidential election, again tweeted support for the Richmond protesters and a defence of the US Constitution's 2nd Amendment on the right to bear arms.

Skip Twitter post by @realDonaldTrump

The Democrat Party in the Great Commonwealth of Virginia are working hard to take away your 2nd Amendment rights. This is just the beginning. Dont let it happen, VOTE REPUBLICAN in 2020!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 20, 2020

End of Twitter post by @realDonaldTrump

What is security like in Richmond?

The organisers of the rally, the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL), said they expected up to 50,000 people to attend.

Democratic Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency, allowing him to ban guns from Capitol Square.

Queues could be seen at entrances to the "pen". Police are using metal detectors to check for weapons.

But elsewhere in the city, many activists proudly displayed them.

Seven members of a neo-Nazi extremist group known as The Base, at least three of whom planned to travel to the rally on Monday, were arrested last week, the FBI announced.

Who is attending?

Armed militia members and right-wing extremists were expected at the rally. But the local Antifa, or anti-fascist movement, urged its followers not to go, citing safety issues, and said no counter-demonstration was planned.

Skip Twitter post by @socialistdogmom

there is no counter demonstration planned for the january 20 convergence of armed militias on virginia's capitol.

please, please encourage anyone you know who is thinking about counter protesting this event to stay away from downtown richmond on monday. https://t.co/OBVMBXdVH6

— molly conger (@socialistdogmom) January 18, 2020

End of Twitter post by @socialistdogmom

However, some Antifa activists who agree with some of the aims of the gun lobby, are attending.

Others attending include Stephen Willeford, who shot dead a gunman carrying out a mass shooting at a church in Texas in 2017.

Right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones arrived in Richmond in an armoured vehicle.

Also scheduled to speak was local senator Amanda Read More – Source

bbc