Gun control is a controversial issue in American politics today. Many people feel that there is an urgent need for more gun laws while others feel that the Second Amendment is under attack. Supporters of both the Second Amendment and more gun control often hold rallies for these causes. One such rally was held at the State Capital in Richmond, Virginia on January 20th, 2020. This rally was planned by the pro-Second Amendment group, the Virginia Citizens Defense League. Both Second Amendment supporters and Virginia Governor Ralph Northam prepared for this rally.
According to the New York Times, a white supremacist group planned on attending this rally with firearms. As a result, Governor Northam signed an executive order prohibiting the possession of firearms at the State Capital. Since Governor Northam deemed the threats to be credible, he informed all non-essential state employees to take the day off, according to the Washington Post. Governor Northam claimed that he enacted the executive order because he deemed the white supremacists as a threat, and he did not want another fatal riot as seen in Charlottesville in 2017.
Protesters came from all across the country. According to Time, protesters came from as far away as Indiana and Texas. Even though the goal of this protest was to stop the signing of gun control measures by Governor Northam, Americans from outside of Virginia felt that it was important to stand alongside their fellow Americans to protect the Second Amendment. According to Time, protestors began to assemble at the Capital Building that Monday at 11 am.
On Capitol grounds, protesters were prohibited from carrying firearms. However, those who wished to carry their firearms during the protest were free to do so outside Capital grounds, according to the New York Times. Some people would think that protestors and firearms in the same event would be a recipe for disaster. That was not the case. Multiple news outlets reported that this was a peaceful demonstration and that protestors and counter-protestors did not clash with each other. According to the Washington Post, only one arrest was made because a woman refused to remove her mask. In Virginia, it is illegal to conceal one’s face with a mask.
According to the Washington Post, this protest was the result of the 2019 election, when the Democratic Party gained both the State Senate and Assembly along with the governorship. Since the Democrats control both the senate and assembly, it is easier for them to pass gun control legislation and have the potential legislation signed by the governor. This protest was also the minority, in this case, the Republican Party, opposing potential gun control measures. This protest also gained nationwide attention, drawing in supporters from multiple states and prompting President Trump to tweet in support of the protestors and condemning Virginia lawmakers for proposing these gun control measures.