Richmond During the Rally: The Safest City in Virginia

Wait? What? Where were all the white supremacists?

by James A. Bacon

Twenty-two thousand armed citizens packed the streets of downtown Richmond yesterday, and not one shot was fired. No one was killed. No one was injured. There was only one arrest — of a 21-year-old woman who refused, in violation of a prohibition against masks, to remove a bandana from her face. And she, most likely, was of the leftist persuasion. As the Virginia Mercury quotes her male companion, “Way to keep our city safe, guys, while there’s fuckin’ Nazis and terrorists around here.”

After hyping fears that far-right extremists might create mayhem, the mainstream media heaved a collective sigh of relief. Some headlines:

Richmond Times-Dispatch: “Gun-Rights Rally Draws 22,000 to Capitol; No Violence.”

Richmond Times-Dispatch: “No Violence as Thousands with Firearms Gathered

Washington Post: Weapons, Flags, No Violence: Massive Pro-Gun Rally in Virginia Capitol.”

Associated Press: “Pro-Gun Rally by Thousands in Richmond Ends Peacefully.”

Urban journalists and other progressives never cease to be amazed when law-abiding rural rustics with guns are, well… law-abiding. The media — especially the Washington Post — had fanned fears that the event would be disrupted by armed militias, Neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

The Winchester Star headline best caught the spirit of the rally: “Local gun rally participant: ‘For a short period, Richmond was the safest city in Virginia — maybe the nation.'”

As a matter of fact, the Richmond Police Department reported only 24 crimes across the entire city on Jan. 20, none of them violent. That was down from 76 crimes reported the day before (including 12 assaults); 77 crimes (including 10 assaults) the day before that, and 96 crimes (including 8 assaults) the day before that. Coincidence? You be the judge.

Then there was this kicker from USA Today. While the media played up the parallels between the gun rights rally and the violent Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, which resulted in the death of counter-protester Heather Heyer when a neo-Nazi ran his car into a crowd, Heather Heyer’s mother Susan Bro said she owns a gun and grew up around guns. She supports some of the legislation under under consideration by the General Assembly but thinks some proposals are “a bit extreme.” Said she: “I believe in common-sense gun measures but not extreme measures.”

As I noted yesterday, the parallels drawn by the media between the Charlottesville event and the Richmond rally were superficial and misleading. Yes, it is true that the FBI arrested three white supremacists from up north (including one Canadian in the country illegally) on allegations that they planned violence, so the fears were not totally groundless. But they were wildly exaggerated. The media coverage leading up to the rally was more a reflection of the fevered imaginations of progressive urban journalists and their stereotypes of rural gun-rights advocates than reality. But, then, that’s nothing we didn’t know before.

It’s only fair to add that the fears of some gun-rights advocates were equally groundless. Contrary to the ravings of Sen. Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield, that rally goers were being “set up” by the Northam administration and that Northam had laid the groundwork “to make the entire movement look like insurrection,” law enforcement authorities handled the situation flawlessly. Northam may have over-reacted by declaring a state of emergency and prohibiting weapons from the Capitol grounds, but he decided to take no chances. In the end, he will be judged by the final result — no one was hurt. All’s well that ends well.

— JAB

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42 responses to “Richmond During the Rally: The Safest City in Virginia

  1. Yep, yep, yep. All good.

    If there is another rally – should the same measures be taken or have the “law-abiding” folks, in fact, “proved” it was unnecessary and overkill and next time there will not be such onerous “restrictions”?

    Bonus question: If there is another rally, and we find out the white supremacists are also planning on being there – do we do it any different than we did?

    Let’s find some agreement here rather than just adding this to the divide. how about it?

  2. What is horrible is not showing the clean up done by the gun owners. Amazing, decent folks are getting slandered again to fit someones’ agenda.

  3. I’ve seen numerous pictures of people in camouflage and numerous people with masks and with multiple and large guns hanging everywhere. Some absolutely awful signs, too that will further divide folks. I’ve seen video that shows a lot of folks with guns – so many folks could hardly move. I’d have not felt good walking the streets yesterday with so many guns so obvious and knowing others were there but not obvious. The look of things was pretty intimidating to many I know. They are not speaking publicly and are not demanding their time to share messages.
    Those celebrating that nothing happened yesterday and that their message was shared need to consider the people they kept away and the general sense of intimidation they’ve created. They don’t seem to be able to hear the messages of those they intimidate. Nothing will change under these conditions.

    • Not nearly as intimidating Idealists with Time to Spare.

      Growing up in RoVa, where gunshots are the norm, I get a chuckle out of Urbanites who freak-out when they hear the sounds of kids lighting off fireworks a few blocks away or a car back firing.

      You’re not scared of the gun weilding people, you’re are scared of the unknown.

  4. I loved the photo of a VCDL member kneeing on the street using his knife to scrap up a ‘Gun Saves Lives’ sticker which had fallen off and adhered to the pavement. Never see that at ANY leftist meeting/protest/riot/march.

    No burning cars [the protest on Inauguration Day], no breaking windows [any college protest against a conservative speaker], no disruption of business [any day in Portland or Seattle], no throwing of substances at reporter [every antifa event].

    An armed society is a polite society.

    • Cleaning up their own mess? GADZOOKS!!! Methinks, SOME of them might have picked up SOME STUFF when the cameras were on but I suspect that like most large crowds, a significant cleanup was needed.

      In terms of not disrupting other – are you kidding?

      My thinking is that the conscientious ones, KNEW that ANY acting up was going get going to be all over the media and get them tossed into the hoosegow and their mug shots on the news for families and employers to see and the would-be rabble rousers were outed early on and the jig was up so they stayed away.

      I think if there were no police there and no restricted access, all hell would have broken loose – like it did in Charlottesville.

      The plain fact of the matter is that a significant number of the gun rights folks ARE, in fact, “law-abiding” but there is always the fringe group – the ones that WILL act up and in a large crowd – once that happens – chaos ensues and truth be known, it’s that potential that worried people, and they stayed away for fear of that.

      So the question remains – if we had it to do over again or if it actually does happen again – would we not have a substantial police presence and barricades?

      My suspects are than most folks that answer truthfully would still fear violence if the police and barricades were not there.

  5. As you said a couple of days ago, Northam was in a damned-if-you-do and damned-if-you-don’t situation. You were right. Now you are damning him because he did.

    By the way, the higher number of crimes committed the two days before the rally were on a weekend. Weekends are always more violent.

    • Northam played it right. For once, everything he did was transparent. I don’t hear anybody complaining about how it all went down. Ralphie must have done something right.

    • Dick, you are mis-reading my post. This is what I was leading up to: “In the end, he will be judged by the final result — no one was hurt. All’s well that ends well.”

    • Friday, Jan. 17: 96 crimes reported (8 assaults)
      Thursday, Jan. 16: 91 crimes reported (10 assaults)
      Wednesday, Jan. 15: 76 crimes reported (10 assaults)
      Tuesday, Jan. 14: 83 crimes reported (8 assaults)
      Monday, Jan. 13: 92 crimes reported (9 assaults)

      Want me to go on?

      And, by the way, yesterday was a state holiday… kind of like a weekend.

  6. You had it right all along. No surprise. There was nobody to fight.

    But there was fear. The ability to excite paranoia from the left is getting to be an often used tool of outlets like the Washington Post. “Oh my God, you can see their guns! We’re all gonna die.”

    There was a terrible murder in Charlottesville in 2017 but it was via automobile not semi-automatic weapon. Was a single shot fired in Charlottesville? Had there been no guns would there still have been a murder?

    I was in the middle about gun control. But the logic from the left leaves me cold. Restrictions on so-called assault weapons will accomplish nothing. Neither will magazine limits. Charles Whitman didn’t need an assault weapon or high capacity magazines to open fire from a tower at the University of Texas in 1966. 14 killed, 31 injured. How was Whitman stopped? The combined actions of police officers and armed civilians who eventually worked their way to the tower and up the steps. One they got there they killed Whittman.

    No mass killer will decide to forgo his or her dispensing of violence and mayhem because they could only get 8 round magazines. None will stay peacefully at home because they really really wanted to use an AR-15 and no other rifle will do. There will be more mass killings. And all will agree that the laws passed by politicians did not prevent those mass killings. Those on the right will say the gun-control laws we passed this year should be repealed because they didn’t work. Those on the left will say we obviously need stricter gun control.

    The end result from the left is no guns. They will continue to use the acts of psychotic mass killers to further disarm Americans. The problem is that psychotic mass killers are hard to predict. If they can’t get assault weapons they’ll use hunting rifles. If they can’t get Mac10s they’ll use Sigs. If they can get Sigs they’ll use revolvers. If they can’t get revolvers they will load a truck with fertilizer and diesel fuel and detonate it under the Alfred P Murrah Building.

    Lefties want to get rid of guns? Amend the Constitution. Until then – get used to a society of armed people.

    • Then you’re okay with any law-abiding citizen to be able to buy a full automatic weapon, right?

      • Missed point. I don’t propose changing the gun laws at all. I think they are fine as is. I see no compelling reason to make any of these changes. The next mass shooting will still happen after these laws are passed. People in Richmond will still be murdered with guns after these laws pass. The only thing that will end gun violence is either perfect enforcement of gun ownership laws or making guns illegal. The former is impossible and the latter is unconstitutional.

        So, if these laws aren’t intended to reduce gun violence or stop the next mass shooting – what are they for? They’re meant to fail. When gun violence remains the same and the next mass shooting occurs – then what? Then liberals will want another round of gun grabbing laws.

        Slippery liberals need to just get serious. Amend the constitution. Ban guns.

        Would any of the actual weapons used in the Virginia Beach shooting be affected by these laws? The perpetrator did use a suppressor so maybe that would count. But would these laws have stopped the perpetrator?

  7. This is nuts.

  8. I still don’t like it when walking around doing nothing in particular on an urban sidewalk and there’s a guy there walking around in camo gear toting an assault rifle. Even if he’s doing nothing in particular also. I don’t even like it when it’s not an assault rifle but a holstered pistol and the carrier is in uniform.

    Yes, nothing bad happened, this time. But this entire event was not an exercise in peacemaking. It was intended to intimidate legislators, and the press, and ordinary citizens. All that loose talk about “I’m here armed and ready to defend my 2d Amendment rights” is per se imferential of a willingness to use a deadly weapon in public in ways that are alarming and threatening to ordinary folks who cannot predict what exactly will trigger the armed man’s perception of a mortal threat to what he considers his 2d amendment rights, since such rights are quite lawfully limited in ways most of us know he does not even acknowledge. Now, multiply that disconnect from reality by several thousand, put a loaded gun in many of those hands, and you have an gathering that is, simply, scary. Don’t tell me the lack of an “incident” this time is any reason to dismiss such assemblies as benign.

    • If you met me would I intimidate you Acbar? I’m 60. Medium height. A bit more muscular than most 60 year olds from years of weightlifting but nothing dramatic. Usually well dressed. Pretty well educated, pretty well spoken.

      Would you know that I am one of about half a million Virginians with a concealed carry permit and my Sig p365 was in my Concealment Express holster under my sport coat? Or that I travel with an Ar-15 in the trunk. You know, just for in case? Would I intimidate you if you didn’t know those things? Or would I be just another jolly old guy prattling on about Virginia politics?

      If I took off my sport coat and you saw my Sig would you then be intimidated? Even though you know that I’ve never been arrested for anything or charged with a crime let alone convicted. Even though I’ve never received a moving violation while driving? That I’ve held clearances with the US Government? Would I suddenly intimidate you because I own a perfectly legal piece of personal property which I carry with me in compliance with Virginia law?

      The fact that some people are intimidated by people carrying perfectly legal firearms on their person is irrelevant to a reasonable discussion of gun control.

      As an aside – I don’t carry concealed. I don’t own an AR-15. When I transport a shotgun it’s unloaded, locked and in a gun bag with any ammo in a separate compartment of my car or truck. But the question should be whether I intimidate you (which I can’t imagine I would) not whether I own a gun. The idea that my ownership of a legally obtained gun somehow predisposes me to violent and illegal acts is pretty absurd. You should be more afraid of my F-150. Sometimes, when I’m in a hurry the beastie gets a bit away from me.

      • well you did not ask me but I’ll answer.

        If YOU and 10 others were in a store and all carrying AR-15’s would I know who you all were and trust that you were all just ordinary folk?

        If YOU ran into that same 10 , would you be “ok” with it?

        Do you want to walk into a DMV and stand in line with a bunch of folks carrying AR-15s? You’re okay with that?

        Do you want to attend a government meeting, a BOS or planning commission and the audience is filled with folks toting AR-15s? You’re okay with that? You’re pretty sure all of them are “okay” folks?

        How about if everyone was allowed to buy fully auto weapons and carried them into a Walmart or sports stadium?

        Let’s get after it. Are you really okay with the above and “leftists” are “overreacting” and fear mongering?

        • But you would presume that my legally carrying a weapon made me dangerous? That’s your problem – not mine.

          I spend time in the Spring and Summer trout fishing in Nelson County. I see guns. All the time. Am I intimidated? No. Not at all.

          • I see guns all the time also but do you want to see 50 of them in a Walmart or in a court or a DMV?

            You’re looking at the best case.

            how would you feel if anyone could have a full auto machine gun?

            no different?

      • But can you write?

      • Actually, I sometimes am fearful of F-150s and those who drive them. I don’t claim to be immune to prejudice, or even irrational fears triggered by situations that are far more benign than yesterday’s gathering in Richmond. I jump to conclusions that are context-driven, like deciding whether to change course or walk straight through a jivin’ bunch of teenage boys coming towards me in a tough neighborhood. The rational me doesn’t care if you carry a concealed weapon legally; I don’t even want to know. The difference is: you are not doing so to intimidate me. Even if not concealed, you are not carrying a weapon surrounded by the intentional aura of military machismo. You are showing the respect due to your possession and display of such a powerful tool, which I freely admit can be used for good as well as ill.

        Unless you aren’t. When you say “that I travel with an Ar-15 in the trunk. You know, just for in case” — I hope that’s tongue in cheek. Because in what rational situation does one need the firepower of an AR-15, unexpectedly? On the side of the road, say? Or parked in an urban parking lot? What would it take for you not only to show me that you have such a weapon, but to use it?

  9. re: ” But this entire event was not an exercise in peacemaking. It was intended to intimidate legislators, and the press, and ordinary citizens. All that loose talk about “I’m here armed and ready to defend my 2d Amendment rights” is per se imferential of a willingness to use a deadly weapon in public in ways that are alarming and threatening to ordinary folks”

    oh no , Acbar… they were “peaceful” and “law abiding”… what could go wrong?

    This is idiocy, Do we want a place, like the General Assembly where citizens walk in armed with deadly weapons?

    Why do we restrict them from Courts if there is no danger because they are “law-abiding”?

    have people lost their minds?

  10. Whitman would have had his gun taken away under a “red flag” law. He had begged for help and in 2020 would be considered (rightfully) a danger to himself and society. He was so distraught that he asked that his brain be looked at upon his death (turns out he had a brain tumor).

    Yesterday’s rally (well not the rally per se, but the throngs of armed people that hijacked it) was a violent act. No matter how you spin it, thousands of armed people descending on a democratically elected body with the purpose of intimidating lawmakers and their constituents is inherently violent.

    • I can concede the red flag laws, properly implemented, as both constructive and constitutional. Whitman was found to have a hypothalamic tumor at autopsy and was struggling before the incident.

      You are only intimidated if you decide to be intimidated. You have no right to avoidance of intimidation based on the legal activities of other Americans. They have the right to continue their legal activities whether those activities intimidate you or not. Some people are intimidated by groups of young black men standing on a street corner. Too bad. One group’s sense of intimidation diminishes no other group’s rights.

  11. This is nutty. If AR-15s are “okay” and should not intimidate and if they do it’s the fault of those intimidated – why would we not let a parent with an AR-15 visit a school?

    Do you think you can carry an AR-15 into the Virginia State Fair or a Nascar Race? Why not?

    Come on… this is idiotic…

  12. I love the way Peter and Larry argue by assertion and name-calling.

    Peter: “this is nuts” without saying what’s nuts
    Larry: “This is nutty” “this is idiotic”

    Larry, you called for some agreement. If so, then I suggest that you avoid the pitfalls of your logic. You excel at what is known as the argumentum ad absurdum, which might be considered an extreme example of the fallacy of neglected aspect. Larry, most things happen in a context. You like to ignore context so that you can apply your argument in an overbroad fashion. So: why would we not let a parent with an AR 15 in a school? Because a parent carrying an AR 15 into a school is not the same as a “parent” carrying an AR 15 elsewhere, for example on the firing range, or on the street down the block from the capital outside the presence of so many kids and past experience with school shootings. You neglect to note that the context of a school is different than the context of someone on the street. But you hope to use the no-AR15’s-in-school argument to expand your argument to contexts where it has no application.

    • @ crazy – name calling? really? saying that “this is nutty” is name calling?

      this is a problem with you guys.

      Crazy – the “absurd” is the hand waving .

      It’s a simple question. If walking around with an AR-15 is “okay” why is it not in some places?

      you say: ” or example on the firing range, or on the street down the block from the capital outside the presence of so many kids and past experience with school shootings.”

      If you admit that it’s not “OK” then are you admitting it can be a problem or not?

      Do you rule out that no kids or teachers would be on the grounds of the Capitol on Lobby Day?

      re: ” You neglect to note that the context of a school is different than the context of someone on the street.”

      NO! I am asking YOU what is different and do you agree there are places where AR-15s are not appropriate and should not be permitted?
      AND WHY!

      you can’t just wave your hands guy/gal. That’s precisely the problem.

  13. Your statement, “how would you feel if anyone could have a full auto machine gun?”

    Part of the great group of fallacies known as irrelevancy. The discussion is not about auto machine guns, it is about semiautomatic weapons. Further irrelevance: they are already illegal; and finally the argument by emotional appeal employing a transfer technique: you try to associate that which most people approve of (the ban on fully automatic weapons) with the idea that you want accepted (a ban on semiautomatic weapons). Did I mention that you employ the same technique with respect to the schools. Kids are a highly emotional subject when it comes to their safety. Viewed that way, your AR-15 in schools argument can also be called one of an emotional appeal, risk argumentum ad populum, in which you appeal to fear for the safety of the kids.

    But take heart, you aren’t alone. The arguments of most gun control advocates are highly emotional and therefore mostly logically irrelevant to the goal to be achieved: presumably fewer mass shootings by crazy people, although that’s obviously not the only legitimate goal.

    • re: ” Part of the great group of fallacies known as irrelevancy. The discussion is not about auto machine guns, it is about semiautomatic weapons. Further irrelevance: they are already illegal.

      AND I’m asking YOU if that is not also an unconstitutional restriction and if not why not.

    • Crazy:

      You obviously payed attention in the Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric class (or whatever it was called where you went to school). Good.

      So, let’s play Larry’s game. Some people are intimidated by groups of young black men congregating on street corners with low hanging pants. Apparently Larry would agree to ban such gatherings since some people feel intimidated. The fact that the vast majority of young black men are honest and law abiding citizens wouldn’t matter to Larry. The fact that the young black men on the corner are breaking no law wouldn’t matter to Larry. They should be banned for congregating on the corner because they intimidate some timid souls.

      Larry – if people acting legally intimidate you – that is your problem, nobody else’s.

  14. Yesterday was amazing. Makes me proud to be a Virginian again. It has been a good while since I last felt this way.

    • Sorry, a bunch of likely Trump supporters massing in Richmond to intimidate the GA with their guns is not my idea of “America” or “Virginia”.

      If these guys had said they were coming to Richmond on lobby day (like many other non-gun folks do) in numbers but they explicitly said they would not bring their guns – it would have been an entirely different.

      Instead they chose to intimidate and in doing so, essentially invited the white supremacists and other wackadoodles to join them – and the police knew that and had to act accordingly.

      Without the police and barricades, it would not have been so peaceful nor would it have ended early – it would have ended in day long chaos with the wacadoodles running amok and who knows what else.

      In addition, – because of the way they chose to come to Richmond – they scared off others who also wanted to lobby their legislators – as they have for many years.

      This is not my idea of good citizenship. Look at the signs. Go on social media and read what they say before and after Richmond. This is not a group of non-violent folks lobbying for their rights. Just imagine if antifas or black folks or women had their marches and they all showed up armed to the teeth to “lobby” for their “rights’.

      The proud are misguided about what happened in my view. We averted a disaster because the authorities did what they should have done in Charlottesville. I don’t consider a large of crowd who would have preferred to carry all their weapons but were prevented from doing so – to be “well behaved”.

      • The only people who were intimidated by the gun-rights rally were the people who believed their own propaganda that this was a group of dangerous zealots if not outright white supremacists. One cannot hold the protesters responsible for the paranoid delusions of their critics.

  15. Crazyjd, a number of european countries have very strict rules and very few homicides. Also, i believe in the us that suicide by gun happens more often than homicides. Plus, i lived for a while as a teenager in a small north carolina town. Two girls i dated lost their brothers when they got too excited while hunting and were killed when pulling loaded shotguns under barbed wire fences. At least i went through a firearms course at that age.

  16. re: ” alled one of an emotional appeal, risk argumentum ad populum, in which you appeal to fear for the safety of the kids.”

    total BS. I’m asking a simple question.

    and you are impugning the question… and the questioner to distract from the question itself.

    answer the question guy. how can we have these differences in the way we treat AR-15s if they are supposedly a 2nd amendment right that cannot be restricted?

  17. @ crazy – You are wrong guy. I am not an advocate of arbitrary control of all weapons but I DO think the laws need to be consistent and make sense and further than the 2nd amendment does NOT guarantee every citizen the right to own any weapon.

    period.

    the right to own is not unilateral and the right to carry a weapon anywhere is also not unlimited.

    there are restrictions.

    there are guns you cannot legally own and there are places where you cannot take them.

    that’s just a plain fact. there is no “absurdem” crappola

    my question is where is the dividing line and who determined it?

    can we have a reasonable discussion without all the ” fallacies known as irrelevancy” goofy stuff?

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