Richmond prepares for thousands at pro-gun rally on Lobby Day

Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY/WRIC) — Gun rights advocates are expected to turn out by the thousands to give lawmakers their two cents on proposals to tighten gun laws on Lobby Day Monday.

Authorities have spent several days securing a perimeter around the capitol complex after an emergency order by Gov. Ralph Northam earlier this week.

Those gun rights groups have fought the order in court, so far with no success, as an appeal to the Supreme Court of Virginia was denied by a judge Monday evening. All systems are set for Monday.

Security will be tight in and around Capitol Square. Extra fencing has been put up around the Capitol building, no parking signs are up, and some bus stops will not be serviced.

Two House of Delegates members have said they will not be in session Monday, and House employees are not to return to their jobs until Tuesday, according to Del. Steve Heretick (D-Portsmouth).

Chaos and even violence is feared at Monday’s pro-gun rally after the Charlottesville Unite the Right Rally brought members of white nationalists, and Neo-Nazi’s, and Klansmen in 2017.

Adding to the fears Monday’s Lobby Day could turn ugly, three people with alleged ties to neo-Nazi groups were arrested Maryland. The FBI says they had plans to attend the gun rights lobby in Richmond.

During the week, state Sen. Scott Surovell, (D-Fairfax) took to the Senate floor.

“Charlottesville is a big reason why the public is crying out for this,” Surovell said of gun legislation that passed the Senate.

This week, state senators passed legislation limiting one gun a month, mandatory background checks for any transfer of firearms including private sales, and giving local governments the authority to ban the possession of firearms in public spaces during events that require a permit, like protests. It passed on a 21-19 party line vote.

Monday’s rally is, in part, for gun rights activists to say “We are opposed to those new laws.”

On Monday, a smaller gun lobby reached out to Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who for over 20 minutes engaged with the pro-gun crowd.

At the time, Fairfax emphasized civility.

“I am not trying to make a point.  I’m just trying to make the point that we can have discussions, we can be civil, we can listen to each other,” he said.

Earlier this week, the Virginia Citizens Defense League’s Philip Van Cleave stood up against new gun laws.

“This falls on this whole group of bills that what they are saying is ‘I hate gun owners,” he said.

Van Cleave calls Monday’s Lobby Day the groups biggest and most important event of the year.    

Last Monday’s Lobby day was much smaller, yet gun rights activists came out in force. Many couldn’t even get into the hearing room where a Senate Committee voted out four new gun control measures.  

Michelle Sandler with Moms Demand Action told the Senate Judiciary Committee gun legislation is critical.

“These laws have prevented mass shootings and are also instrumental in reducing firearm suicides. Every year, nearly 1,000 Virginians are killed by a firearm, and nearly 70 percent of those deaths are suicide,” she said.

Moms Demand Action and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence have canceled their planned events for Lobby Day.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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