President Donald Trump on Monday claimed that Democrats in Virginia are trying to take away 2nd Amendment rights, as thousands of gun-rights advocates descended on Richmond to oppose legislation that would restrict access to firearms in the state.
“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 tweeted on Monday.
Virginia Democrats have advanced gun control measures in the 2020 legislative session.
The Virginia Senate, along party lines, approved several gun measures last week, including background checks for private firearm transfers, limiting gun purchases to one handgun a month and allowing localities to ban firearms in public during a permitted event.
The bills now head to the Virginia House of Delegates.
But Trump did not mention the recent temporary ban on certain weapons on capitol grounds in the state due to credible threats by extremists online.
Ahead of Monday’s “Lobby Day” in Richmond, Virginia’s Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, declared a temporary state of emergency to ban open and concealed firearms and other weapons from the state capitol grounds.
According to Northam, law enforcement had learned of credible threats of violence surrounding Monday’s rally, made from mainstream and alternative dark web channels used by violent groups and white nationalists outside of Virginia.
When announcing the ban on Wednesday, Northam said he hoped to prevent incidents like the violence that erupted three years ago at the white supremacist rally in nearby Charlottesville, which left one counter protester dead and several others injured.
In the wake of the Charlottesville protests, Trump famously blamed “many sides” – suggesting the burden was on both pro-Confederate, white nationalists and counterprotesters for the violence.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides,” he said.
He also said there were “fine people” on both sides of the protests in Charlottesville.
In the wake of two back-to-back mass shootings, one in El Paso, Texas, and another in Dayton, Ohio, the President made promises for gun control legislation, calling for tighter background checks on individuals who purchase firearms.
Trump said in September he was “moving very slowly” on the issue to get it right.
Still, despite earlier calls for tighter background checks, Trump has continued to hit at the politically advantageous fracture between Democrats and Republicans on 2nd Amendment issues.
In December at the White House, he touted what his administration “has done to protect our 2nd Amendment.”
As late as this month, he told his supporters at rallies that his administration has “protected” the 2nd Amendment and asserted that their rights are “under siege.”
CNN’s Veronica Stracqualursi contributed to this report.