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Moms Demand Action: 'Gun Safety is Winning'

Outside the Virginia State Capitol
The Virginia State Capitol will host thousands for a massive rally organized by pro-gun groups on Monday. (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM)

Gun safety groups call the massive gun rally Monday on Capitol Square a last-ditch intimidation tactic to scare lawmakers out of passing new gun laws.

Organizers with Everytown For Gun Safety and Mom’s Demand Action for Gun Sense in America held a press call Friday ahead of the rally, which is generating fear among gun safety groups and public officials.

Shannon Watts, founder of Mom’s Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, said the event, which is held on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, is “offensive” and “bizarre”. 

“What we will see on Monday is really just a very vocal minority,” she said. “Their views are not representative of the majority of Virginians. In fact, many aren’t from Virginia.”

The Virginia Citizens Defense League hosts the rally every year on Lobby Day at the Virginia State Capitol. But it’s expected to draw larger crowds this year as lawmakers move to pass new gun restrictions.

Citing what he called “credible threats of violence,” Governor Ralph Northam issued an emergency order prohibiting all weapons, including guns, on Capitol Square this Sunday through Tuesday. A Richmond judge upheld that order on Thursday.

Watts said Moms Demand Action has seen an uptick in threats to members of her organization in recent days.

“The reality is we’re facing this increase in threats and insults because we’re winning. Gun safety is winning.”

The Virginia Senate passed legislation Thursday requiring background checks and reinstating Virginia’s one-handgun-a-month law. Those bills are expected to pass in the House.

Philip Van Cleave, President of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, said his group is gathering to peaceably keep Virginia’s gun laws in place.

“If they push hard enough against the people in Virginia, you could end up in a civil war...I pray they don’t do that but if it happens it will be the governor that drove us into it,” Van Cleave said.