The Virginia Citizens Defense League is a pro-Second Amendment group with a long history of advocating for the rights of Virginians to keep and bear arms, but now that the Democrat-controlled state legislature is considering a number of gun-control bills, the non-profit is being cast as a sinister organization.
The group is planning it’s annual “Lobby Day” at the capitol in Richmond on Monday to advocate against the legislation and rumors are swirling online about the threat of violence from militia groups, neo-Nazis and white nationalists, with references to the violence seen in 2017 in Charlottesville.
Virginia’s Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam cited law enforcement intel to say “armed militia groups plan to storm the Capitol,” declaring a temporary state of emergency in the capitol that includes a ban on the carrying of weapons at the gun rights rally.
State Sen. Amanda Chase, a Republican, warned supporters that they are being “set up.”
“Sadly, I am posting this, knowing that the Governor of Virginia has declared a State of Emergency in our state,” Chase wrote on Facebook. “I want you to be aware of how we are being set up.”
“Does the Patriot Act ring a bell? Does the National Defense Authorization Act ring a bell?” she added.
The GOP lawmaker said Northam has used the media to “set the stage” should outside instigators cause things to spiral out of control, having already “laid the groundwork to make the entire movement look like insurrection.”
“If people show up wearing any kind of uniform, patch or other symbol on their clothing signifying they belong to a militia and something goes wrong, you could/will be held as a domestic terrorist.
“If anyone steps out of line, all it takes is one person, it may even be a government plant….if that plant does anything to disrupt the rally, you could/will be arrested as a domestic terrorist.”
The left has a history of dropping plants into events such as this to stir trouble, and Antifa, the real domestic terrorist group, is expected to be at Monday’s rally.
In effect, this all but assures there will be violence — just not from the those being painted as the instigators.
Citing the Southern Poverty Law Center, Chase said militias, patriot groups and even military veterans are now being labeled as potential domestic terrorists. And while she said “they have gone out of their way since the Obama years” to do this, Chase added that this started with the Patriot Act under the Bush administration.
“We are being played by a well oiled machine, these things have been in the works for many years,” she wrote.
“We were told not once, but several times by the current President, ‘It’s Not Me they are after, It’s You, The American People.’ Their actions over the last three years have shown you he was right, they are coming after us full speed ahead and they aren’t even trying to hide it anymore,” she said in closing.
In addition to the ban, Northam announced that he “established a unified command between state police, Capitol Police, the Richmond police department, and the city’s first responder teams.”
Brendan Mooney, a VCDL executive member who helped organize the event, spoke with CBS affiliate WTKR on Friday and said past events have always been peaceful.
“It’s an American issue,” Mooney explained. “It’s not a Republican versus Democrat issue. It’s an American issue.”
“We’ve been doing it for a fair number of times, and it’s always been a good, organized event,” he added. “This, obviously, because of the legislation proposed is a bigger event this time; however, we expect to be nice and peaceful.”
As for Northam’s ban on legally carrying firearms, the Virginia Supreme Court opted Friday evening not to hear a challenge to the order and the Virginia Citizens Defense League is asking supporters to heed the ban.
“We ask everyone to follow the temporary Capitol grounds rules,” the organization said in an email on Saturday, according to the Washington Free Beacon. “There is NO need for an act of civil disobedience to achieve standing for a court fight. We already have standing.”
Free Beacon reporter Stephen Gutowski noted that there have been over a hundred similar events in the past two months without incident, stressing that “violence would be the worst outcome for the interests of gun-rights activists.”
A common-sense observation if ever there was one.
The Governor claims there are threats for Monday's event and the FBI did arrest three violent extremists who may have planned to attend the event but that isn't in any way a guarantee of violence. Violence would be a the worst outcome for the interests of gun-rights activists.
— Stephen Gutowski (@StephenGutowski) January 19, 2020
The governor praises the high court’s decision not to address the ban, citing concerns about white supremacists and neo-Nazis causing violence.
“I have full respect for their fundamental American right to voice their opinions,” he said in a statement. “But over the past few days, the news has confirmed that this rally is attracting extreme individuals and groups — including national hate, neo-Nazi, and white supremacist groups — who are threatening violence and looking to advance a violent agenda.”
Needless to say, tensions are extremely high on both sides of the issue, as trust is a rare commodity.
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