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Thousands protest gun controls in Richmond, Virginia

US WEAPONS (ADDS VIDEO) | 20 de enero de 2020

Thousands protest gun controls in Richmond, Virginia 

Gun-rights supporters gather for a rally outside the Virginia state capitol in Richmond, Virginia, on 20 January 2020. The Virginia Citizens Defense League organized the rally to protest gun control measures introduced by Virginia's Democratic-led assembly that would require background checks and ban guns in some public parks and buildings. The rally also attracted militia members, white supremacists, and other far-right extremists. EFE/EPA/SHAWN THEW

Washington, Jan 20 (efe-epa).- Thousands of people, most of them men, demonstrated on Monday outside the Virginia state capitol building in Richmond against restrictions on possession and carrying of weapons that Democratic legislators want to impose in that state.

Despite the fact that many of the protesters came armed to the teeth, there was not a single violent incident during the gathering near the capitol, where for the first time in a quarter-century Democrats control both chambers of the legislature after their election victory last November.

Along with Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, progressive lawmakers have promised to move forward with state laws to exert greater control over firearms, and it is this stance that sparked the protest on Monday.

Last week, Northam declared a state of emergency to temporarily prohibit people from bringing weapons into the capitol in response to the planned demonstration called by The Virginia Citizens Defense League.

During the demonstration, several politicians, conservative experts and gun rights defenders delivered speeches against the anti-weapons laws and the Democrats.

One of the participants was Dick Heller, a security guard whose request to have a firearm at his home was denied and who then sued the city of Washington DC, a 2008 case in which the Supreme Court ruled in his favor.

The Second Amendment to the US Constitution, dating from 1791, sanctifies the right to keep and bear arms.

In his speech at the protest, Heller made reference to the movement to convert Virginia into a "weapons sanctuary," which seeks to declare towns and counties as "Second Amendment Sanctuaries," where no gun control measures will be applied.

"The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed," shouted Heller, who also recited the text of the Second Amendment along with the crowd.

President Donald Trump took advantage of the protest to lash out at Democrats on Twitter, saying "I will NEVER allow our great Second Amendment to go unprotected, not even a little bit!"

Earlier on Monday, the president had tweeted: "The Democrat Party in the Great Commonwealth of Virginia are working hard to take away your 2nd Amendment rights. This is just the beginning. Don't let it happen, VOTE REPUBLICAN in 2020."

Trump also retweeted a video of gun-rights activists singing "The Star-Spangled Banner."

The preparations for the protest had aroused fears about a possible eruption of violence in Richmond, similar to what occurred in August 2017 in Charlottesville, also in Virginia, where a neo-Nazi ran over and killed a person with his car during the protests that broke out over the city government's decision to remove a Confederate statue.

On the national level, the US Congress has gone for more than two decades without approving a law that significantly limits weapons possession, in part due to the influence and congressional lobbying efforts of the powerful National Rifle Association.

The pro-gun demonstration in Richmond coincides with the celebration of Martin Luther King Day, a national holiday commemorating the birth of the civil rights activist, who was assassinated in 1968.

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