A US city is bracing itself for violence as tens of thousands of gun rights supporters are expected at a rally on Monday.
A temporary state of emergency has been declared in Richmond, the state capital of Virginia, banning all weapons including guns from the event.
Police fear peaceful gun rights activists will be joined by militia groups and white supremacists, prompting authorities to close roads around the state legislature building.
Image: Donald Trump banners at a meeting of gun rights supporters in the Virginia Citizens Defense League
A huge police presence is expected to be on duty to ensure there is no repeat of the Charlottesville rally in 2017, where a woman died after being hit by a car while protesting against a white supremacist and neo-Nazi gathering.
Police plan to limit access to the rally to only one entrance and have warned people they may have to wait hours to get past security.
Gun rights supporters are rallying in the city to protest against local Democrats’ plans to pass gun-control legislation, itself prompted partly by the Charlottesville tragedy.
Democrat lawmakers, who won power in both the state Senate and House of Delegates in November, are seeking to limit handgun purchases to once a month and begin universal background checks on anyone buying a gun.
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Gun rights activists are also worried by a bill that could see guns banned from public places and legislation to allow the temporarily disarming of anyone deemed dangerous to themselves or others.
On Thursday, Virginia’s solicitor general, Toby Heytens, said police had “credible evidence” armed out-of-state groups planned to come to the state possibly to take part in a “violent insurrection.”
Image: ‘Guns save lives’, reads a pro-gun rights supporter’s badge
Mr Heytens, who was arguing against an attempt to overturn the weapons ban, suggested the crowd could number in the tens of thousands. The Supreme Court upheld the ban.
Image: Roads have been closed around the Virginia state legislature building in Richmond
Donald Trump, a forceful advocate of US gun rights, tweeted his opposition to Virginia Democrats’ plans, telling his followers Democrats “will take your guns away”.
Your 2nd Amendment is under very serious attack in the Great Commonwealth of Virginia. That’s what happens when you vote for Democrats, they will take your guns away. Republicans will win Virginia in 2020. Thank you Dems!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 17, 2020
Virginia’s top House Republican Todd Gilbert has warned “white supremacist garbage” to stay away from the gun rally, adding that “hate, violence or civil unrest” were not welcome.
Later this week, gun firms gather for their annual conference and trade show in Las Vegas, where in October 2017, Stephen Paddock killed 58 people in the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.
Source : Sky News