The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Virginia pro-gun rally Despite anger, threats of insurrection, massive rally is carried out peacefully outside state Capitol

The crowd at the gun rights rally in Richmond fills the area near the Capitol, where no weapons are allowed. (Julia Rendleman for The Washington Post)

RICHMOND — Thousands of gun-rights advocates packed the streets around the Virginia Capitol on Monday, bristling with weapons, flags and threats of insurrection but never erupting into the violence authorities had feared.

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Armed militias carrying assault-style weapons marched in formation until the crowds grew too thick. Protesters without firearms filed through 17 metal detectors at a single entrance to Capitol Square, where about 6,000 people cheered fiery speeches on the Second Amendment. A far larger crowd remained outside the square, where they could keep their weapons.

This was the aftershock of last fall’s elections, when thousands of Virginia voters gave majorities in the General Assembly to Democrats who promised to enact gun-control laws. The losing side of that equation thundered through this city’s streets on Monday, backed up by self-styled patriots from all over the country.