ROANOKE, Va. – Tensions are looming ahead of a massive pro-gun rally in Richmond on Monday, sparking fear in gun control and gun rights advocates alike.
“I am afraid that something bad is going to happen,” said Charlie Nave, the chairman of the Roanoke City Republican Committee.
“I’m worried that it won’t be safe on Monday,” said Catherine Koebel, a gun control activist from Roanoke.
Koebel was planning on going to the capital until she heard about the threats of violence. Now she’s calling on Second Amendment supporters to reconsider.
“The gun rights groups who are going who aren’t extremists need to ask themselves why it is that white supremacists want to show up at their rally,” Koebel said. “If you’re going, you’re associated.”
Roanoke City Republican Chairman Charlie Nave disagreed.
“It’s just not a mob,” said Nave of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, which is helping organize Monday’s rally.
Nave said Gov. Northam’s ban on weapons on Capitol grounds has caused hysteria and gun rights supporters are respectful, law-abiding citizens.
“There are fringe people out there saying fringe things, but it’s important to remember that there are fringe left people out there as well," Nave said.
He added that fear shouldn’t stop anyone from standing up for their rights.
“You ought not run away from your right to freely assemble, to petition the government, to associate with other people of like mind, to protect another right,” Nave said.
Advocates on both sides are scared of what could happen.
“My ultimate fear is that the pressure will not let up until somebody dies, like what happened in Charlottesville," Koebel said. "And that’s not what I want.”
“I’ve been encouraging everyone I know that’s going, to be on guard, to be careful, and to not be provoked," Nave said.
The state of emergency ends on Tuesday, Jan. 21, at 5 p.m. after all protesters have left Richmond.