Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) on Wednesday declared a state of emergency to temporarily ban individuals from carrying weapons on the grounds of the state Capitol ahead of a gun rights rally planned next week.
“We have received credible intelligence from our law enforcement agencies that there are groups with malicious plans for the rally that is planned for Monday,” Northam told reporters during a press conference on Wednesday. “Intelligence shows the threat of armed militia groups storming our capitol,” he added.
Based on these threats, I am declaring a state of emergency in Richmond from Friday evening until Tuesday evening. This will include a ban on weapons of any kind in Capitol Square during that time. Learn more here: https://t.co/k8bxLj6odF
— Ralph Northam (@GovernorVA) January 15, 2020
Northam said authorities received heard reports of “out-of-state militia groups and hate groups planning to travel from across the country to disrupt our democratic process with acts of violence” and added that they may be “are coming to intimidate and to cause harm,” it was reported.
His declaration, according to a statement on the governor’s website, prohibits weapons on the grounds of the capitol for three days.
The declaration will provide joint law enforcement and public safety agencies with more resources ahead of the rally, his office said. The declaration is also temporary and extends from this Friday, Jan. 17, to Tuesday, Jan. 21.
After the emergency expires, most firearms will be allowed on the capitol grounds as Virginia is an open-carry state—unless another emergency declaration is made.
The move comes as Northam and other Democratic leaders in the state pledge to move forward with a slate of gun-control measures during this year’s General Assembly session. Northam promised to move forward with the initiative in November after Democrats secured both chambers of the state legislature for the first time since 1994.
The Virginia Citizens Defense League, the organizers of the rally, has said that the demonstration will draw thousands to the area, The Washington Post reported. The group’s Facebook event page indicates that more than 5,000 say they will attend.
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