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Richmond, Jan. 20: I’ve got a bad feeling about this

“Unite the Right” rally, Charlottesville, Virginia, August 2017. Wikipedia photo.

I had been wondering when the mainstream media would write a proper piece about the gun-rights rally planned for Richmond, Virginia, on Jan. 20. The Washington Post finally has it today: Prospect of gun control in Virginia draws threats, promise of armed protest.

Because I am in the woods of rural red America, I’ve been hearing about this for quite some time. This is militia country, and the buzz I’m picking up on the ground is that lots of militia guys are planning to go. They’re actually training for it. Most of them won’t be looking for trouble. But as we learned from the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville in 2017, it only takes one fool to start some violence, as when a man drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one person and injuring 19 others.

The organizers of the Richmond event have asked the militia guys to leave their long guns and military gear at home. But if you know any militia guys, then you know that that’s not going to happen. The militia guys have every right to protest gun legislation in Virginia that they don’t like. But to descend on Richmond heavily armed, with all of Richmond’s emotional reminders of the old Confederacy, and with the world on the edge of a nervous breakdown, is playing with fire. I just hope that the state of Virginia has a plan for keeping the protesters and counter-protesters apart. There are too many people who actually want violence, because violence feeds their fantasies or supports their agendas.

Many studies have found that conservatives are more fearful than liberals. Thus liberals don’t easily understand why conservatives respond they way they do if they think someone is going to take their guns away, because conservatives very much see their guns as protection, while liberals are much more likely to see guns as just dangerous. The Virginia gun legislation is still being debated (the legislature goes back into session on Jan. 8), but actual buybacks of assault weapons, as far as I know, are off the agenda. Registration of already-owned assault weapons may be in the current version of the legislation, but conservatives aren’t going to accept that either, because as the Washington Post story says, they see it as just the first step toward confiscation.

Did organizers of the gun event know that Jan. 20 is Martin Luther King Day? I suspect that they did and that it was intended as an insult. As I said in the headline, I’ve got a very bad feeling about this.

Update 1: I don’t know if I agree with this opinion piece or not. But it’s something that we need to think about: How would the far right react to a Trump loss? Here’s a glimpse.

Update 2: The Guardian posted a story today about Virginia: Virginia Democrats won an election. Gun owners are talking civil war.

Update 3: “We have received credible intelligence from our law enforcement agencies that there are groups with malicious plans for the rally that is planned for Monday.” Virginia Governor Declares State Of Emergency Ahead Of Gun Rights Rally.

Update 4: Virginia Capital on Edge as F.B.I. Arrests Suspected Neo-Nazis Before Gun Rally.

One Comment

  1. Karren wrote:

    You’re not the only one with a bad feeling. These are scary times we live in. Yours is the first mention of the connection between fear and conservatism that I’ve seen, but it does make sense. That menacing, swaggering, gun-grasping person in the picture is really a frightened little kid inside. But he does inspire fear in me!–and disgust!

    Friday, January 10, 2020 at 10:50 am | Permalink

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