Richmond, VA – A strong showing of pro-Second Amendment law enforcement officers were among those in attendance at the Virginia gun rights rally on Monday.
Despite fears to the contrary, there was no violence at the event, which was held at the Virginia State Capitol to oppose the Democrat-held legislature’s proposed gun control legislation, KMGH reported.
Over 20,000 people gathered at the capitol for the demonstration, to include a plethora of police officers, the according to the Washington Examiner.
But not all of the uniformed law enforcement officers who showed up to the rally were there on assignment.
Members of the Grayson County Sheriff’s Office (GCSO) traveled approximately nine hours round-trip to attend the gathering.
“Great turnout for 2A rally in Richmond today!” the GCSO said in a Facebook post, along with photos of department members holding a pro-Second Amendment sign. “Standing room only!!”
Among them was Grayson County Sheriff Richard Vaughan, who had no qualms about voicing his opinion regarding the proposed law changes.
“If the bills go through as proposed, they will not be enforced,” Sheriff Vaughan said in a video clip. “They are unconstitutional, and we swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of Virginia, and that’s what we’ll do.”
Culpeper County Sheriff Scott Jenkins, who also attended the rally, said that he plans to deputize gun owners in his county if the lawmakers pass the gun-control legislation, KMGH reported.
“My intent was to swear in thousands of auxiliary deputy sheriffs and make it legal for them to possess the weapons that they’re trying to ban and restrict,” Sheriff Jenkins told the news outlet.
As of Dec. 18, 2019, 86 of the 95 counties in Virginia had adopted a “Second Amendment Sanctuary” resolution as a show of opposition to the proposed gun-control laws.
Many individual cities and town also enacted their own sanctuary measures.
“We will not comply!” rallygoers chanted during Monday’s event.
Attendees also recited the Pledge of Allegiance and sang the National Anthem, the Washington Examiner reported.
Members of the Virginia State Police, the Richmond Police Department, and the Virginia Capitol Police were deployed in force ahead of the rally, to include staging on rooftops and patrolling with bicycles and cruisers, the Washington Examiner reported.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents also worked with local police to address potential “threats of violence” in the days leading up to the rally, according to the news outlet.
Despite the obvious presence of law enforcement officers patrolling the area, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez complained that there were “almost no police officers” providing security, the Washington Examiner reported.
Ocasio-Cortez denounced the rally during a speech at the Blackout for Human Rights: MLK Now 2020 event in Harlem on Monday.
“There’s this gun rights protest happening down in Richmond,” she told the crowd. “On MLK day!”
“But here’s the image that has struck with me the most about that,” the Democrat continued. “When we go out and march for the dignity and the recognition of the lives of people like Freddie Gray and Eric Garner, the whole place is surrounded by police in riot gear without a gun in sight. And here are all of these people flying Confederate flags, with semi-automatic weapons, and there’s almost no police officers at that protest.”
“Who or what are our institutions protecting from whom?” she asked. “That image conveys it all.”
Just one person was arrested during the gun rights rally. She was arrested after refusing to remove her mask, in violation of the state’s anti-mask law.
Many attendees were seen cleaning up trash and litter before they left the area, the Washington Examiner reported.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam declared a temporary emergency ahead of the event, banning all weapons from the Capitol Square in front of the State House.
“Law enforcement intelligence analysts have identified credible threats of violence surrounding the event, along with white nationalist rhetoric and plans by out-of-state militia groups to attend,” Northam told reporters on Jan. 15.
Two state officials who had been briefed on the plan told the Associated Press that Northam was trying to head off a repeat of the violence that occurred at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2018, when James Fields deliberately ran down Heather Heyer, killing her.
However, that event was explicitly a white nationalist event, whereas the gun rights rally was explicitly about gun rights.
Democrats tried to blame the gun ban at the State House on the Capitol police.
“I just have to say that this is something that’s been recommended by our Capitol Police,” House Majority Leader Charniele Herring said before the vote. “And I think there are times when we sort of have to trust what our law enforcement officers are telling us.”
But the Capitol police chief wasn’t about to take the blame for the least popular policy change so far this year, the Loudoun Times reported.
Capitol Police Colonel Anthony Pike said that he never advised legislators to ban guns in the State House.
Col. Pike said he just answered the politicians’ questions about how to implement their ban after they voted on it, according to the Loudoun Times.
Republicans were furious when they learned the truth about the role of the Capitol police in making the new policy.
“That was a deliberate misrepresentation,” said Republican Virginia State Delegate Kirk Cox said. “There’s just no way around that.”
Many viewed the move as more anti-gun shenanigans by the state’s newly-installed Democratic majority who have vowed to institute gun control in the famously pro-gun state that is home to the National Rifle Association (NRA).
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has vowed to aggressively enforce any new gun-control laws passed by the legislature.
“The Attorney General is delusional if he thinks this is just some movement that’s been ginned up by the so-called gun lobby,” Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman-At-Large Corey Stewart said. “This is a groundswell movement if there ever was one.”
Stewart represents an area that has declared itself a Second Amendment Sanctuary County.