And One More Thing…

Can this thing be weaponized?

Since posting my previous post, I’ve been thinking about Governor Ralph Northam’s decision to declare a state of emergency to keep a lid on the upcoming gun-rights rally. I’m sure it was not a decision lightly taken. The Governor is in a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t situation — criticized by one side for clamping down on the rights of law-abiding citizens, but subject to even worse criticism, if gun violence breaks out, had he failed to act. I get it.

Here’s the thing. There’s a lot of hysteria surrounding this issue. The media has played up crazy, unsubstantiated rumors and worrisome threats circulating in extreme right-wing social media. But deranged right-wingers are not the only people who are capable of over-reacting. What, exactly, is the menace that Northam sees? Were the worrisome words trash talk designed to impress other right-wing nut jobs, or is there legitimate reason to think the people intend to act upon them? Obviously, it is better to err on the side of caution on such things. But do the threats rise to the level of a state of emergency?

Northam could help himself if he held a press conference featuring a Virginia law enforcement officer in charge of evaluating the threats. Who, specifically, are we worried about? Name organizations! What are we afraid people might do? And perhaps most importantly, how are the measures associated with the state of emergency tailored to deal with those threats? For example, Northam has mentioned worries about an attack by drone. How does squatting on gun rights protect people from drone attacks?

The more credible information we put into the public domain, the better. Right now, I’m betting that the gun-rights enthusiasts, even the law-abiding ones, are not responding well to the state of emergency. But if law-enforcement authorities presented believable information that right-wing militants are seeking to create chaos and carnage, I think most gun-rights advocates would be very supportive of the Governor’s action. And the more cooperation the authorities get from the protesters and their organizers, the better.

Update: From the New York Times “The F.B.I. has arrested three men suspected of being members of a neo-Nazi hate group, including a former reservist in the Canadian Army, who had weapons and discussed traveling to a pro-gun rally next week in Richmond, Va., in anticipation of a possible race war.”

That’s what I’m talking about — this is the kind of information we need. I’ve come around. The alarms are justified. We absolutely cannot have a repeat of Charlottesville-style violence. I’m comfortable with the state of emergency.

— JAB

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20 responses to “And One More Thing…

  1. re: ” The media has played up crazy, unsubstantiated rumors and worrisome threats circulating in extreme right-wing social media.”

    I’m amused. For a LOT of the mass killers these days – their footprints are on social media.

    Yet – you blame the mainstream media for saying what’s happening in social media.

    Isn’t that ALSO a “damned if you do and damned if you don’t”?

    The chatter from the right these days is all over the map.

    Leftists, radicals, socialists, baby killers, virtue signaling..and that’s the nice words…

    social media is a festering cesspool of wackadooles these days.

    Oh there are a lot of the other kind also – but anyone who has spent any time at all on social media knows what I am talking about with regard to “right” these days.

    it’s more and more extreme on the issues and now they’re talking about – not just civil disobedience – but “revolt”!

    We’re starting to feel like a 3rd world country with “militia” roaming the streets.

    At some point, principled Conservatives need to stand up and disavow this – not tip toe… but reject it.

  2. Virginia has been here before, October 16, 1859.

  3. I’m not sure who is supposed to be John Brown in this scenario and dragging him into this isn’t helpful. The previous governor and his staff (IMHO) screwed up BADLY and got people killed in Charlottesville and Northam and police need to be damn sure Monday that weapons are kept away. I do not envy them. I will not second guess them. I will do them the courtesy of staying away, not even trying to get to my parking lot. I would hope that the reports out of state crazies on the way are wrong, but they cannot be ignored. I fear nobody in the NRA or the VCDL but this has gotten totally beyond them. Throw those BS talking points away, Jim, please. This is not a political game. You are writing irresponsible things.

    If the actual event is less than feared, one response would be to taunt for over-reacting. But its my ass that would be on the line should I do my job on site Monday, so I won’t complain for one second if the protest turns out to be tame.

    • Steve, my only talking point is that the governor should hold a press conference and detail the threats. With the most recent arrest of out-of-state neo-Nazis, that threat now looks very real. I’m on board.

      • And tactically I strongly would advise to keep the other side guessing what the cops know or plan to do. So I wouldn’t hold a news conference. You are not in that building, Jim – people really are very concerned.

  4. My knowledge about planned protests at Richmond is limited to Jim’s Post and information linked into it. I know nothing beyond that information plus the above New York Times Report, which does not surprise me at all. This is potentially a very flammable set of circumstances, giving the extremists on all sides of this issue.

    Peace in Richmond must be maintained by all concerned at this event, and extremists, whoever they are, and from wherever they come from, must not be allowed to incite and ignite a debacle like all concerned did, or allowed, at Charlottesville. Responsible on all sides must insure peace at this event.

    And we must assume the worst on the part of few, on all sides, as I do fear more than one side, if past events in Charlottesville and elsewhere around the country be prologue.

    In that regard:

    Here is a perspective the 1st and 2nd paragraphs of Northam’s Declaration of Emergency, how carefully they are crafted.

    “The Commonwealth of Virginia is a welcoming state. Virginians understand that diversity of opinion keeps our democracy strong. The more voices involved in our political dialogue, the stronger we are. Civil discourse, even and especially, amongst those who disagree, is critical to our democracy’s evolution and success. When the civility of that political discourse breaks down, the Commonwealth suffers. Three years ago, Virginia and the nation, watched horrified as civil protest was marred by violence and hate. The events that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia demonstrated what can happen when peaceful demonstrations are hijacked by those who come into the Commonwealth and do not value the importance of peaceful assembly. We lost three Virginians. We must take all precautions to prevent that from ever happening again.”

    Notice how the words strongly suggest that the violence “three years ago” arose from out of state actors who entered Virginia and hijacked peaceful demonstrations, marring those civil protests by violence and hate. A very fair statement.

    But this seemingly exonerates in state Virginia actors of violence three years ago. However, it also does not limit the out of state malevolent actors to any one side of protests. Recall there were two sides of Charlottesville’s violence of 2017.

    The Governors next paragraph has a bit different scope but in a limited way, namely:

    “Credible intelligence gathered by Virginia’s law enforcement agencies indicates that tens of thousands of advocates plan to converge on Capitol Square for events culminating on January 20, 2020. Available information suggests that a substantial number of these demonstrators are expected to come from outside the Commonwealth, may be armed, and have as their purpose not peaceful assembly but violence, rioting, and insurrection. Assuring that Virginia’s Capitol Square and surrounding public areas are sheltered safe places for those who come to participate in the democratic process, as well as those who work on or near Capitol Square, is my greatest priority.”

    Whereas the Declaration seems to exonerate in state Virginia actors for what happened in Charlottesville in 2017, its prediction for the upcoming protests “attended by tens of thousands” seems to be somewhat guarded as to the potential for instate bad actors. But, again like the 1s paragraph, the 2nd paragraph does not limit the out of state malevolent actors to any one of two or more sides of violence as occurred in Charlottesville in 2017. Though here, in 2020, the Declaration suggests outsiders may be armed and coming with the intent of doing violence, rioting, and insurrection. Otherwise, as to these matters, he remains silent on bad instate actors.

    More importantly, the Declaration does not suggest that there will be two sides of any violence on January 20 in Richmond, unlike the UnitetheRight versus counter protesters, (local and antifa) at Charottesville?

    Could Northham’s intelligence fail to show that counter protestors intent show up at all in Richmond, whether they arrive from in-state or out of state, and have no intentions there at all if they do happen to appear?

    If there is such evidence, it must be disclosed to the public. If not, why? And why would this be so, given our past experiences at Charlottesville, and indeed all over the country over the past four years.

  5. Here are some of the threats …
    “On social media, the hashtags #Boogaloo and #Boogaloo2020 have been wildly active with right-wing extremists announcing their plans to attend the rally and bring their guns. An anonymous official noted to the Associated Press that one such post featured a photo of an AR-15, saying there are “great sight angles from certain buildings” near the Capitol.

    A favorite component of the social-media chatter is a “New World Order” conspiracy theory claiming that Northam intends to call in blue-helmeted troops from the United Nations in order to quell the uprising. One Twitter account (since restricted) featured a photo of a U.N. vehicle transport on Interstate 81 near Richmond, declaiming: “As predicted! UN vehicles in Virginia to assist with shock-troop gun control! Are you ready! Photo captured yesterday! Foreign troops!”

    Another account urged participants: “Buy a gripful of pistols and rifles. Train Train Train. Aim for the blue helmets and black hoodies.”

    The conspiracy theory spread like kudzu among militiamen. The leader of Washington state’s “3%” militia organization posted on Facebook last week an extension of the theory, namely, that a job posting on the United Nations website suggested a plan to incarcerate protesters. He titled it “Boogaloo is coming.”

  6. And One More Thing …
    from the email to constituents from a VA lawmaker….
    “Friends, ….. “Several of the bills proposed by the democratic majority are radical and uncalled for. Under the banner of making Virginia “safer,” the left is, through a series of bills, essentially destroying the 2nd Amendment, thereby transforming our law-abiding gun-owning citizens into felons; “

    Turning sall gun owners into FELONS! YIKES!

  7. Could this really happen? Virginia counties seceding to join with West Virginia? We seem to have an open invitation from our brothers and sisters of the Appalachian Mountains.
    http://www.wvlegislature.gov/Bill_Text_HTML/2020_sessions/RS/bills/SCR2%20INTR.htm

  8. Principles Conservatives MUST now see the results of their support of “2nd amendment at any cost” position.

    What this shows clearly is that there ARE people out there who are more than willing to bring guns to a public venue AND to engage in acts that are unsafe to others.

    No one should NEED to wait to see a news report about wackadoodles on their way to Richmond before they are “convinced”. Jesus.

    And the irony is – the folks who are now “convinced” – that “news” is coming from what they have frequently and often called the Leftist, lying media…. good lord.

    Have we got no brains of our own that we have to be “informed’ by media we have consistently rejected that there is a problem?

    I’m just flummoxed here. Until there was a “report” in the media, Northam was accused of implementing Democratic “talking points” on the 2nd amendment AND tacit agreement with the right’s inane talking points like: ” good guys with guns can stop bad guys with guns”.

    Clearly, we’re not having any of that now.

    or perhaps the talking point that ANY “restriction” on guns is a violation of the Constitution. There are ALREADY legal actions against Northam saying he has exceeded his authority and is violating the Constitution.

    I can only hope that at some point, some Conservatives come out with responsible positions on this and reject the idiocy going on – on the right in general about it.

    There ARE people who should not have deadly weapons. That’s just a fact.

    • And which of these laws will stop them? Really? None of them. By definition they will disarm law abiding citizens. Expanded background checks? Maybe. Adding additional offenses to the list of disqualifications? I’m fine with that. But bad people will still get guns. Where these laws already exist, bad people have plenty of guns. But you can’t cure stupid.

      • not true Steve. How many of these crazies have automatic weapons or 50 cal guns or RPGS? Restrictions DO WORK. We already restrict weapons and the proof is that few if any of the crazies show up with fully auto weapons .

        • No they don’t Larry. I love the way you ask a question that assumes the answer. “How many of these crazies have automatic weapons…? As if the answer is obvious: “there are probably tons of these guys who have tons of weapons.” RPG’s? seriously? Now you are just fear mongering like the left is wont to do. RPG possession is illegal, so is a 50 caliber automatic weapon. You don’t need any new restrictions on these. Yet you seem to want to justify new restrictions on the basis that there are old restrictions on weapons that are irrelevant to the discussion. As usual, your logic is impeccable.

          • Jane Twitmyer

            “just fear mongering like the left is wont to do.” You say restrictions don’t work but don’t have evidence.

            Here are some facts about guns and restrictions from NPR …. restriction do work … with caveats for circumstances.

            Do gun laws always bring down gun fatalities?
            Mexico has very restrictive background checks for gun purchases and licenses, but it’s had no effect on gun-related homicides because of the heavy organized crime. Our lack of federal regulation [of guns] has contributed to the problem in Mexico — you have that flow [of guns] across the border.

            If there were broad-based gun reform legislation in the U.S., would that make a difference?
            It’s my opinion that the United States would see an outsize impact from a slate of legislative proposals that Mexico has adopted because we lack the organized crime in the way Mexico has. But not only do we have to have legislation [to address gun control]; we need to think about policy positions that allow us to buy back the current supply of firearms, of how we dwindle that number down.

            Is there an example of a country that had a high rate of deaths from gun violence, then enacted legislation and saw a change?
            South Africa passed its Firearm Control Act in 2000 — banned automatic rifles, instituted background checks, permits and licenses. In the next five years, there was a 13.6% decline on average per year in gun-related firearm deaths.
            Austria passed a similar law and saw a similar result a few years before that.

  9. AND you don’t leave the door open for the robbers, unstored food around to draw the rats, plus you clear off the coffee table and other low shelves of all glass and metal ‘stuff’ for the toddler.

    Bad things might still happen but you do your best to make them less frequent.

    • The sort of commentary expressed above represents the kind of negative human emotions that a skilled demagogue easily whips into hysteria such as we see today on many college campuses, and witnessed on the streets of Charlottesville in 2017.

      The Founders were keenly aware of this ugly and dark side of human nature. Hence, they warned us about these ugly ingredients of mob behavior, and they also demanded protection against them by adding a Bill of Rights to the US Constitution before they would adopt it.

      That is why this Bill of Rights was drawn up after the Constitutional Convention and during the effort to ratify the Constitution drafted at the convention. Without this Bill of Rights the Constitution would not have been ratified. The purpose of this Bill of Rights was to protect the American people against their own Government, and tyranny of a majority under its democratic form, including their fear of mob rule of democracies, and the rule of tyrants too.

      Thus the Bill of Rights was critical to the ratification of the US Constitution otherwise deemed to be a fatally flawed document without the Bill of Rights, which of course prominently included the 2nd Amendment.

    • yep.. the stuff being espoused is a reason to not have laws because some folks will break them anyhow! “Restrict” does not mean no one can get one but it DOES mean that MOST cannot and will not.

      Right now, felons cannot legally buy guns and it’s certainly true that some do anyhow but MOST do not and the ones that do – if they get caught – they go back to prison.

      That’s how laws work.

      The law against drunk driving does not stop drunk driving – true – but look at how much it has been reduced because of the laws.

      the excuses being put forth right now are just plain bogus.

      they’re basically an argument against laws… and they’re coming from folks who have traditionally been called the “law and order” party. go figure!

      I don’t understand the logic of Conservatives now days.

    • No they don’t Larry. I love the way you ask a question that assumes the answer. “How many of these crazies have automatic weapons…? As if the answer is obvious: “there are probably tons of these guys who have tons of weapons.” RPG’s? seriously? Now you are just fear mongering like the left is wont to do. RPG possession is illegal, so is a 50 caliber automatic weapon. You don’t need any new restrictions on these. Yet you seem to want to justify new restrictions on the basis that there are old restrictions on weapons that are irrelevant to the present discussion. As usual, your logic is impeccable.

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