VIRGINIA (WJHL)- Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D) declared a state of emergency for the Commonwealth’s capitol after threats of violence and attendance of white nationalists and militia groups are expected at a gun rights’ rally on Monday.
“I am declaring a state of emergency in Richmond from Friday evening until Tuesday night,” said Northam during a press conference Wednesday afternoon. “Everyone should understand this is based on real identified threats that have been made.”
That state of emergency called for the capitol grounds throughout the weekend and into early next week over what was set to be a lobby day for gun rights.
“We’re expecting probably 50-60 thousand people plus where they’re normally just having a few thousand,” said Liberty Sport and Pawn Owner Adam Barnes.
Last week- he told News Channel 11 that he spent weeks organizing for a group from Lee county to go to Richmond for the rally.
“Being a gunshop owner, these new filed laws will affect us greatly and possibly even put us out of business with all the other gun shop owners in Virginia,” said Barnes. “So, our concern grew from that and just word of mouth- people coming in the store. We had a lot of people wanting to go with us. So we started organizing meetings.”
The state of emergency is calling for extra security and a ban on all weapons including guns on capitol grounds. It even goes as far as asking non-essential personnel to not come to work on Monday.
“Folks coming to lobby for the second amendment- they’re just law-abiding citizens. They just want their right to keep and bear arms,” says John March, a spokesperson for the Virginia Republican Party.
He says declaring a state of emergency over Monday’s rally is going too far.
“There’s no need for a state of emergency. It makes an enemy out of people that aren’t enemies,” said March.
Virginia Citizens Defense League, a gun-rights group says its considering legal action against the governor over his emergency declaration. They issued a statement saying there hasn’t been an incident at lobby day events since they started in 2003.
Since 2003 the Virginia Citizens Defense League has held its lobby day and rally every year and done so with zero incidents. Governor Northam declared war on lawful gun owners in November with a host of gun control proposals aimed not at criminals, but at law-abiding gun owners. It was his attack and the reckless, and threatening, rhetoric from others in Democrat leadership, such as saying the National Guard would be called out to enforce gun laws, that has angered gun owners from across the state of Virginia. Importantly, VCDL believe that the Governor does not even have the legal authority to ban guns under a state of emergency and VCDL’s attorneys are actively looking at filing an injunction again the Governor’s gun ban.Phillip Van Cleave
President, Virginia Citizens Defense League