A pro-gun rally is happening in Virginia at the State Capitol on Monday, but what time is everything taking place? The event that’s been all over the news officially starts at 8 a.m. Eastern on Monday, January 20, 2020. Read on for more details.
The Event Officially Starts at 8 AM Eastern on Monday
The official start time for the pro-gun rally is 8 a.m. Eastern on Monday.
The Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL) is hosting the pro-gun rally at the Virginia state capitol on Monday, January 20, 2020. It’s called a gun rights “Lobby Day.” This actually isn’t an unusual event — the VCDL hosts it every year. But this year, it’s gotten a lot of media attention with many different groups claiming that they’re planning to attend and rumors running wild about what might happen.
According to the Virginia Citizens Defense League’s website, the event’s official Facebook page can be found here. There are a lot of other Facebook pages circulating for the event, but this is the official one.
According to this official Facebook event, the VCDL Lobby Day (aka the pro-gun rally) will take place from 8 a.m. Eastern to 1 p.m. Eastern, meeting at The Pocahontas Building at 900 E. Main Street in Richmond, Virginia. According to the event page, they will then be lobbying on the steps of the state Capitol. The Pocahontas Building houses most legislative offices, including delegate and senator offices. The Pocahontas Building on 900 E. Main Street is just .4 miles from the Virginia State Capitol itself and considered to be on the Capitol grounds. Here’s a map showing the location of both buildings:
Gov. Ralph Northam declared a State of Emergency and banned weapons on the Capitol grounds until the evening after the event.
According to the VCDL’s FAQ page: “Monday, January 20, is VCDL’s Lobby Day. It is not VCDL’s Protest Day. … VCDL Lobby Day is a peaceful event about gun rights and NOTHING ELSE. We are NOT there to have arguments with the other side. They lobby, we lobby, and never the two shall meet. Just ignore them. And we are not there to push any other agenda. Our total focus is on protecting our right to keep and bear arms. Period. This is not about flags, statues, history, etc. Just guns. If you somehow find yourself being harassed by the other side, don’t engage them. They could well be baiting you and recording what you do for propaganda purposes. If necessary, go find a police officer and let them take care of the person causing the disturbance. Otherwise, just ignore them and go about your business.”
Note that beyond this official event, there are also some other Facebook events listed with differing times. A Richmond 2A Sanctuary Rally is posted as lasting from 8 a.m-3 p.m. Eastern on Monday.
Meanwhile, another “Second Amendment Rally” is listed on Facebook as happening from 10 a.m. Eastern to 3 p.m., hosted by “Jimmy Frost for Republican Party of Virginia Beach Chairman.”
So in general, although the official event starts at 8 a.m. Eastern and lasts until 1 p.m., expect other groups to possibly be around longer, even into Monday evening.
Tips If You’re Attending or Nearby
If you’re attending the event, the VCDL asks that you arrive as early as possible because they are anticipating big crowds. Getting through the checkpoint at the Pocahontas Building can be slow, especially with the new gun restrictions.
According to the event page, participants are asked: “Know who YOUR state representatives are. You will have a Delegate and a Senator representing YOUR location. If you don’t know who they are, go to https://whosmy.virginiageneralassembly.gov and check. It’s really easy, folks. Write down their names and district numbers… On lobby day, if your team has already gone in or you simply can’t find them, either find another team or go to the security line and ask around for them. It’s quite possible they’re still in line and you can still join them… If you’re able, make YOUR OWN appointments with your Delegate and Senator for after the VCDL rally and meet with them in person. If that’s not feasible for you, consider coming back on another day and meeting with them. (Make an appointment…)” You can read the full tips here.
The VCDL notes that satellite parking will be available at The Diamond with a free shuttle bus service every 15 minutes from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m. The buses are provided by VCDL. The VCDL is also chartering buses from many nearby cities and counties.
At least 13 people are listed as speakers for the day too.
A State of Emergency Was Declared Before the Event
Northam declared a state of emergency and banned “weapons of any kind” from the Capitol grounds, with the ban lasting through 5 p.m. on the evening of January 21, the day after the rally, WCYB reported.
A number of groups are planning to attend the rally on Monday. Oath Keepers and Three Percenters have said they will travel to the event to participate. The VCDL turned down offers from militia groups to provide security, but said they can attend the rally itself as participants.
Some fake news spread about January 20, claiming that Northam was planning to cut off electricity, access to phones, and the Internet in order to confiscate guns, Politifact reported. This is not accurate. An account that posted the tweet has since been removed from Twitter.
What is accurate is that three members of a group called The Base were arrested on Thursday, The New York Times reported. They had weapons and were talking about traveling to Richmond, Virginia for the rally. They were not involved in organizing or leading Monday’s rally in any way, but had talked about wanting to attend. Patrik J. Mathews, one of the men arrested, had entered the U.S. illegally from Canada. The two others arrested were Brian M. Lemley Jr. and William G. Bilbrough IV. The men had more than 1,500 rounds of ammunition, an assault rifle, and had vests that could hold body armor. They had discussed attending Monday’s rally, according to officials.
Also on Thursday, three other men were arrested in Georgia who were associated with the Base, but they had no known ties to the rally, The New York Times reported. Officials said they were suspected of plotting to kill a couple who may have belonged to Antifa.
The FAA also restricted flying over Richmond, 8 News reported. The airspace is designated “National Defense Airspace” until after Lobby Day.