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22,000+ people attended the VA gun rally; 1 arrest for wearing a mask

Crowds gather in opposition to gun control measures proposed by the Virginia state legislature. (Grayson County Sheriffs Office/Facebook)
January 20, 2020

The gun rights rally in Richmond, Va. has ended and officials released an initial crowd size estimate on Monday afternoon.

In total, some 22,000 people showed up for Monday’s rally, according to an attendance estimate released from the Capitol.

Some 6,000 people reportedly entered the secure perimeter of the Capitol, where weapons were not allowed. Another 16,000 people stayed outside the fenced-off perimeter where many could be seen openly carrying their firearms in protest to new gun laws being discussed by the Virginia state legislature.

Clarification on the estimated turnout for today’s rally: the division is closer to approximately 6,000 people on Capitol Square and 16,000 outside the gates.

— VACapitol2020 (@VACapitol2020) January 20, 2020

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency in advance of the rally, instating a temporary ban on firearms and other weapons at the Capitol.

By the time the rally had ended and protesters left, the Capitol Twitter account had reported no arrests have been made as a result of the protest. The Capitol Facebook account later reported an arrest had been made near the end of the rally after an attendee repeatedly wore a face mask despite an officer’s orders to take the mask off.

The rally attendee in question, Mikaela E. Beschler, 21, was reportedly charged with a single felony count of wearing a mask in public.

In addition to the firearms ban, a mask ban was also put in place ahead of the rally.

Pictures of the huge gathered crowds could be seen across social media on Monday.

Phil Van Cleave, the president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL), which organized the event, tweeted support for the gathered crowd in what he described as a “Huge Turnout.”

The VCDL has also been active in Virginia in recent months, promoting “Second Amendment Sanctuary” resolutions in dozens of Virginia counties and localities. The sanctuary measures are not legally binding, but reportedly symbolize the intent many localities have to not enforce new gun laws passed by the state’s Democratic majority legislature.

Some sheriffs from around the state were seen in attendance at the gun rights rally as well.

Grayson County Sheriff Richard Vaughan was seen carrying a sign in support of the Second Amendment and said in a tweet that he would not enforce the gun laws proposed by the legislature.

A ban on many popular semi-automatic firing firearms, and a limit on magazine capacities is among some of the legislation reportedly proposed by Virginia’s lawmakers.