Relief in Virginia: the pro-gun rally much feared by the authorities finally took place in a calm, Monday January 20, 2019. Several thousand people, some in camouflage and semi-automatic rifles, demonstrated under high surveillance for the right to hold arms in Richmond, the capital of this state located in the eastern United States.
Authorities feared violent actions by far-right groups. Democratic Governor Ralph Northam has declared a state of emergency at Capitol Square, the seat of local government and the site of the protest, due to "serious and credible threats". The event was surrounded by an important security device and aerial surveillance. Weapons and dangerous objects were prohibited on the site.
"We don't want to see a drama like the one in Charlottesville," warned the governor, referring to another city in Virginia where clashes between white supremacist and anti-fascist militants killed and injured dozens in August 2017.
"Weapons save lives"
But despite the large number of demonstrators who came in the early hours of the morning, the rally ended at midday without any major incidents. In addition to the weapons or flags, they displayed orange stickers saying "Weapons save lives".
"In recent decades, politicians have tried to pass laws that make it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to buy firearms. We are on a bad slope. It is our constitutional right, may God gave, to arm us, "said Brooks, 24, a resident of Richmond.
A little further on, John, from Ohio, explains that he wants to "change the culture" of city-dwellers afraid of arms like the AR-15 he wears on his chest. "The more weapons we see in everyday life, the less we will be afraid of them," says the young man, who hides his face under a black scarf.
Support from Donald Trump
Several far-right movements and paramilitary groups had announced their participation in this "Lobbying Day" with elected officials, organized by the Virginia Defense League for Citizens (VCDL). This league denounces what it considers attacks on the second amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees the "right of the people to hold and bear arms". But this article is the subject of divergent interpretations and the Supreme Court limited this right to the domicile, leaving cities and states to regulate their transport.
Donald Trump, a great defender of the pro-arms lobby, supported the demonstrators.
"The Democratic Party in Virginia is doing everything to deprive you of your rights provided for in the second amendment. This is only the beginning. Make sure that does not happen, vote Republican in 2020!", He said. tweeted Monday. "I will NEVER allow our big second amendment to be unprotected, not even a little!"
I will NEVER allow our great Second Amendment to go unprotected, not even a little bit!- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 20, 2020
Border state of the capital Washington, Virginia, with traditions steeped in conservatism, passed in November in the hands of the Democrats. The latter have promised to tackle the laxity which they believe surrounds the control of arms sales.
The texts under study strengthen the examination of the criminal history of buyers, prohibit magazines with more than ten cartridges and the purchase of more than one weapon per month. They also allow a judge to seize the weapons of individuals considered dangerous.
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