Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, plans to declare a temporary emergency this week banning all weapons from Richmond’s Capitol Square in advance of a large pro-gun rally scheduled for next week, according to the Associated Press.
Gun rights advocates have been demonstrating in large numbers since the Democratic-controlled Legislature revealed intentions to pass numerous gun control laws.
Why a gun ban?
According to officials speaking to AP anonymously, Northam will issue the emergency ban due to “credible threats of potential violence and extremism.”
The official said the state does not have intelligence that the groups are planning a specific act of violence, but said Northam has grown increasingly concerned about numerous ominous-sounding postings on social media from forces outside Virginia. The official cited one posting that included a photo of an AR-15 and said there are “great sight angles from certain buildings” near Capitol Square.
Officials also said they are concerned about the potential for the kind of violence that occurred in Charlottesville during the Unite the Right rally in 2017.
The ban will include helmets and shields. Virginia Democrats have already banned guns from the Capitol building. Some Republican lawmakers regularly carried guns into the Capitol.
What’s going on in Virginia?
Second Amendment supporters have been outraged at the legislative proposals from Democrats, including an assault weapons ban, a red flag law, universal background checks, limits on handgun purchase frequency, and limitations on indoor shooting ranges.
Although there are clearly many opponents to the proposed legislation among Virginia residents, Democrats control the entire legislature, leaving little for gun rights advocates to do except mobilize and protest.
More than 100 local jurisdictions have declared themselves to be Second Amendment sanctuaries, which means they intend to oppose and possibly decline to enforce gun restrictions that may be unconstitutional. At least one Virginia Democrat has suggested using the National Guard to enforce gun laws in such localities.
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