Photo Essay Inside Virginia's Massive Anti-Gun Control Protests
Militia groups, pro-gun hardliners and far-right fringe factions, including white supremacists and conspiracy theorists, converged on Virginia’s capital Monday as the state’s new Democratic majority considers legislation that would enact sweeping gun control measures. The chatter on extremist sites have been touting how [Jan. 20] could be “the first shot of the next civil war,” or, as these groups call it, “the boogaloo.”
Truthdig photojournalist Michael Nigro is on the scene in Richmond, documenting the protests with a photo essay and video, both of which you can find below.

Thousands of gun-rights activists — some making deliberate displays of their military-style rifles — crowded the streets surrounding Virginia’s Capitol building Monday to protest plans by the state’s Democratic leadership to pass gun-control legislation.

Gov. Ralph Northam declared a temporary state of emergency days ahead of the rally, banning all weapons, including guns, from the event on Capitol Square. The expected participation of fringe militia groups and white supremacists raised fears the state could again see the type of violence that exploded at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville in 2017.

Virginia’s current gun laws:

* Do not require a permit to purchase rifles, shotguns or handguns.
* Do not require firearm registration.
* Do not require licensing.
* Do not require a permit to carry a rifle or shotgun.
* Do not “regulate the transfer or possession of .50-caliber rifles or large-capacity ammunition magazines.”
* Do not require a background check before transferring a firearm between unlicensed people.
* Do not impose a waiting period before the sale of a firearm.
* Do not require owners to report lost or stolen guns.
There are several restrictions in place. For example, concealed carry is allowed, but requires a court-issued permit. Dealers must contact state police—which conducts a background check—before a sale. State police are also required to be at gun shows to conduct background checks “at the request of the parties to the transaction.”
Proposed changes in Virginia seek to:
* Ban assault weapons, silencers, high-capacity magazines and other “dangerous weapons.”
* Require background checks on all firearm transactions.
* Reinstate the law—repealed in 2012—allowing no more than one handgun purchase a month.
* Allow municipalities to enact “ordinances that are stricter than state law.” Among the examples cited: rules banning guns in libraries or municipal buildings.
* Require lost or stolen guns to be reported to authorities within one day.
* Allow law enforcement to “temporarily separate a person from firearms if the person exhibits dangerous behavior that presents an immediate threat to self or others.”
* Prohibit the subjects of protective orders from possessing guns.
* Toughen punishment for allowing access of a loaded, “unsecured” firearm to someone 18 or younger.
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