İrem UZUN -TDO- Pro-gun campaigners are gathering in the U.S. city of Richmond for a rally that the Virginia authorities fear could turn violent. State governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency ahead of the protest, banning firearms from the area around the Capitol building.
Northam said there was "credible" law enforcement intelligence that militia groups and hate groups, some from out of state, were planning to attend the rally for the purposes of "violence, rioting and insurrection". The governor also temporarily banned all weapons, including firearms, on the grounds of the capitol in Richmond, where a pro-gun rally is slated to be held later Monday morning.
The Lobby Day rally is an annual event, but several gun-control bills passed in January by the Democrat-led Virginia legislature - in a state where gun rights have historically been permissive - have angered gun owners and activists. This year's event, effectively endorsed by President Donald Trump, comes as the now-Democratic state legislature and governor seek to push through new gun control measures. Those measures include limits on the purchases of handguns, background checks for firearm transfers and enabling local governments to ban guns in parks and other public spaces.
Some local activists believe that the governor's ban on weapons at the capitol will result in larger numbers of armed militia members and other pro-gun activists wandering around downtown Richmond, outside the area where guns are banned. Local anti-fascist activists from Richmond and Charlottesville announced over the weekend that they would not be holding any counter-protests, citing safety concerns.