Inside Virginia’s Massive Anti-Gun Control Protests

January 20, 2020
14 photos
  • An estimated 22,000 militia members, Second Amendment advocates, pro-gun hardliners and far-right fringe factions, including white supremacists and conspiracy theorists, converge on Virginia’s capital Monday as the state’s new Democratic majority considers legislation that would enact sweeping gun control measures. (Michael Nigro / Truthdig)

  • The yearly event, called “Lobby Day,” is held by the Virginia Citizen Defense League (VCDL), and attendance usually numbers in the hundreds. This year, the event drew crowds from all over America. (Michael Nigro / Truthdig)

  • Virginia is an open-carry state. Although VCDL President Philip Van Cleave asked that no one bring long guns, such as AR-15s, hundreds chose not to honor the request. (Michael Nigro / Truthdig)

  • Based on “credible threats,” Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency in Richmond from Friday evening until Tuesday evening. This included a ban on weapons of any kind in Capitol Square, which was surrounded by a 10-foot fence, and a stringently enforced entrance policy. (Michael Nigro / Truthdig)

  • Unlike years past, none of these items was allowed inside Capitol Square. (Michael Nigro / Truthdig)

  • Current Virginia 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; and do not require owners to report lost or stolen guns. (Michael Nigro / Truthdig)

  • An anti-Gov. Northam sign. (Michael Nigro / Truthdig)

  • The Bible and a sidearm. (Michael Nigro / Truthdig)

  • Joey Gibson, a far-right political activist and founder of Patriot Prayer, an extremist group that claims it advocates for free speech, supports Donald Trump and organizes protests in left-leaning areas. (Michael Nigro / Truthdig)

  • Proposed changes to Virginia’s gun laws include banning assault weapons, silencers, high-capacity magazines and other “dangerous weapons”; requiring background checks on all firearm transactions; reinstate the law—repealed in 2012—allowing no more than one handgun purchase a month; and allowing municipalities to enact “ordinances that are stricter than state law.” (Michael Nigro / Truthdig)

  • The only counterprotest seemingly came from The Revolutionary Communist Party (aka RevCom). Approximately 10 members of the group, including Carl Dix (center), chant their mandate to “remove the Trump/Pence Regime.” They were escorted out by Richmond police officers. (Michael Nigro / Truthdig)

  • A big talking point for Second Amendment advocates is the fact that in 1956, Martin Luther King Jr. applied for a concealed carry permit for self-defense. He was was ultimately denied under Alabama’s “may-issue” state statute. This rally is now held annually on Martin Luther King Day. (Michael Nigro / Truthdig)

  • A member of the Pennsylvania chapter of the Light Foot Militia, an organization of armed groups that has units in various parts of the U.S. (Michael Nigro / Truthdig)

  • Despite threats of insurrection and violence, no violence actually took place throughout the massive rally. (Michael Nigro / Truthdig)