Indiana state lawmaker joins Virginia gun rights protest

Demonstrators stand outside a security zone before a pro gun rally, Monday, Jan. 20, 2020, in Richmond, Va. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

RICHMOND, Va. (WTHR) - An Indiana state lawmaker is one of thousands of people who spent the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday protesting gun control legislation.

There was a massive police presence in Richmond, Virginia all day amid concerns about violence. The FBI even arrested several members of a white supremacist group who were planning to be there.

But for the most part, the rally was a peaceful one.

State Rep. Jim Lucas (R-Seymour) took us along as he made his way through the streets of Richmond Monday.

"Just a sea of people. I mean, wall-to-wall people," he said.

And Lucas was right in the middle.

"I knew Virginia was the canary in the coal mine to see what happens, you know, what direction our gun rights head," Lucas told Eyewitness News.

He attended the rally, he said, to join the effort to protect those rights. Those assembled were protesting several new bills that would limit gun rights proposed by Virginia's Democrat-controlled state legislature.

"I respect the fact that they have the right to own a shotgun, but there is, there is...there needs to be some reasonable limitations," said a man near the rally.

As Richmond braced for the massive rally, police say they received credible reports of violence. The governor declared a state of emergency and temporarily banned all weapons near the state capitol.

Some were concerned about a repeat of the deadly protests in Charlottesville in 2017.

"Hate, intimidation, and violence have no place here," said Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam.

Lucas showed us some of the heavy police presence in Richmond Monday, but described the rally as peaceful and positive. He said he was not concerned about violence.

"Anybody foolish enough to start violence would be heavily outnumbered by patriots," he said.

Virginia Capitol Police believe around 22,000 people attended the rally.

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