Ahead of tinder box Virginia gun rally, Trump says Constitution under
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[January 18, 2020]
By Brad Brooks
(Reuters) - President Donald Trump took aim
at Virginia Democrats and their push to stiffen the state's gun laws,
saying that the U.S. Constitution was under attack just as thousands of
armed militia members began arriving in Richmond for a Monday gun rally.
Trump doubled down with his support of gun enthusiasts in the state,
which Hilary Clinton won in 2016 and where Democrats took full control
of the state legislature for the first time in a generation in November,
as candidates made passing stronger gun control laws a central campaign
"Your 2nd Amendment is under very serious attack in the Great
Commonwealth of Virginia," Trump wrote in a post on Twitter Friday
night, referring to the amendment in the Bill of Rights that gives
Americans the right to keep and bear firearms. "That's what happens when
you vote for Democrats, they will take your guns away."
The Virginia Senate late on Thursday passed bills to require background
checks on all firearms sales, limit handgun purchases to one a month,
and restore local governments' right to ban weapons from public
buildings and other venues.
Gun-control activists have reported a growing number of online death
threats as the lawmakers press on and ahead of a rally by arms
enthusiasts on Monday in Richmond, the state capital, which authorities
are trying to keep from becoming violent.
Both Virginia legislative houses are expected to pass the new laws
including universal background checks, a ban on assault rifles, and "red
flag" laws that would allow courts and local law enforcement to remove
guns from people deemed a risk to communities, among other measures.
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President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.,
January 14, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Supporters say more restrictive laws would help decrease the number
of people killed by guns each year. Gun-rights activists assert that
the constitution guarantees their right to possess any firearm.
Militias, neo-Nazis and other groups have vowed to swarm the capital
and police are expecting several thousand people at the pro-gun
rally on Monday.
On Thursday, the FBI arrested three members of a small neo-Nazi
group who authorities said hoped to ignite a race war through
violent acts at the rally, reminiscent of a 2017 white supremacist
rally in nearby Charlottesville.
That rally proved a critical moment in the rise of the "alt-right,"
a loose alignment of fringe groups centered on white nationalism and
emboldened by Trump's 2016 election. Trump was criticized from the
left and right for initially saying there were "fine people on both
sides" of the dispute between neo-Nazis and their opponents at the
(Reporting by Brad Brooks in Austin, Texas; Editing by Leslie Adler)
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