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VA gun rally has started – it’s huge – here are 20 pics and videos

State police gather before dawn on the morning of the gun rally at the Capitol in Richmond on Monday, Jan. 20, 2020. (Steve Earley / The Virginian-Pilot/TNS)
January 20, 2020

Hundreds of gun right activists have gathered in Virginia’s capital in Richmond, to protest a number of gun control measures up for a vote in the Virginia state legislature.

Many of the rallyers intended to express their opposition to new gun control measures by staging an open-carry protest, however Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam issued a temporary ban on guns at the capitol in the days ahead of the rally.

The rally was planned amid strong pushback throughout Virginia in reaction to gun control measures proposed by the newly Democratic-majority state legislature. Some of those gun control measures have included a broad “assault firearms” ban and limits on magazine capacity for firearms.

“We will not comply” #Richmond2ARally #VirginiaRally #Virginia2A pic.twitter.com/LXCUizG5nt

— Gayle Trotter (@gayletrotter) January 20, 2020

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An exact number of rallyers is not yet known, though Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL) President Phil Van Cleave said the event has already seen a “Huge turnout!”

The VCDL has been active in recent months in reaction to the newly proposed Virginia gun laws. The VCDL has led many localities throughout the state to declare themselves ‘Second Amendment sanctuaries’ ahead of any new gun laws passed through the legislature. The majority of Virginia’s counties have adopted the sanctuary resolutions and many other cities and towns have also adopted similar measures.

Several activists could still be seen holding rifles and wearing plate carriers outside the Capitol perimeter, despite the gun ban order within the perimeter.

The crowds have grown throughout the morning in advance of the rally.

As the protest began, rally goers took up chants of “We will not comply,” echoing the opposition many Virginia localities have raised against new gun control measures.

Protesters also took up chants of “Northam Out.”

Some activists in attendance argued that the new gun control measures unfairly target lawful gun owners.

“We are not the ones committing the crimes. . . We bought them legally,” one woman said.

Prior to the rally, the FBI has arrested six different members of an “extremist” group called “The Base.” Those arrested reportedly discussed plans to attend the Virginia gun rally, though three of the men arrested are from Georgia, two are from Maryland and another man is from Canada. Two of the men arrested reportedly planned to assemble and bring an illegal machine gun to the rally.

Hundreds of unarmed rallyers intending to make their protest on the capitol grounds could also be seen lined up hours ahead of the rally, waiting to get in.

Security measures around the Capitol were heightened ahead of the rally. Fences were added and police provided security checks for those intending to enter the Capitol.