Thousands protest peacefully at gun rights rally at Capitol

Thousands protest peacefully at gun rights rally at Capitol

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Capitol Police estimate six thousand demonstrators filtered inside Capitol Square for the gun rights rally, plus another 16,000 rallied outside the square.

Those inside had to go through police metal detectors and bag searches in compliance with Governor Northam’s gun ban. He declared a State of Emergency and banned weapons in the Capitol after police reported receiving threats of militia planning to storm the Capitol. The FBI arrested three members of a white supremacist group last week who had plans to attend.

Below freezing temperatures didn’t dissuade protestors who wanted to make their voices heard, not only opposing Governor Northam’s eight proposed gun control measures, but they say to protect the Second Amendment.

“Governor attack on law-abiding gun owners has created a massive grassroots push back to protect our right to keep and bear arms,” said rally organizer Philip Van Cleave with the Virginia Citizens Defense League.

State Senator Amanda Chase (R-Midlothian) also spoke at the rally.

“Today at this Capitol, the rights of Virginians to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed and violated,” said Chase.

The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence canceled its counter-protest due to fears of potential violence. However, the event went smoothly amid a heavy police presence. Police say only one woman was arrested after the rally, for wearing a mask in public.

House GOP Minority Leader Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) issued a statement after the rally, saying in part, “Even when thrown a last-minute curveball by Governor Northam, Virginia’s Second Amendment community accepted it with grace and did what they always do - make their voices heard while complying with the law.”

The weapons ban remains in place through Tuesday evening.

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