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Neo-Nazis flock to gun rights rally

John Bell

January 21, 2020

Thousands of white supremacists, many carrying automatic weapons and decked in camouflage gear, chose to insult the legacy of Martin Luther King by descending on Richmond, Virginia.

Republican sponsors of a rally for gun rights in Richmond proclaimed that the far right is not welcome. Nonsense. From the White House on down, Republicans are giving the green light to militias and right-wing extremists.

Just days before the rally President Trump tossed some red meat to his rabid followers, via twitter:

“Your 2nd Amendment is under very serious attack in the Great Commonwealth of Virginia. That’s what happens when you vote for Democrats, they will take your guns away. Republicans will win Virginia in 2020. Thank you Dems!”

In recent elections Virginia Democrats won narrow majorities in both houses of the state legislature. The results were a shock to Trump and his supporters, and a number of Democrats like Lee Carter, won under the banner of the Democratic Socialists of America. Regulating gun sales was a big part of their platform.

The reforms are mild. Buyers will be limited to one new handgun per person per month. All gun buyers will face stiffer background checks. There will be restrictions on purchase of military assault rifles. Perhaps most controversial, so-called “red flag” rules would allow police to confiscate weapons from suspected terrorists.

Nazis nabbed

In the lead up to the rally, US law enforcement arrested at least six members of an overtly fascist militia group called The Base.

One of those was a fugitive Canadian who was discharged from the Armed Forces Reserve last year. Patrik Mathews had been briefly held by the RCMP, then released. He fled to the US and had been organizing with Nazis there.

He and members of The Base had allegedly been planning violent attacks, in hopes of using the gun rights rally as the start of a “race war”.


It is no accident that the gun lobby chose Martin Luther King Day to rally. Thousands of armed white nationalists and extremists from across the US took advantage of the holiday to travel to Richmond.

More than one observer pointed out that if thousands of armed People of Colour surrounded the state capital, guns would be outlawed the next day.

History supports this. In 1967, some 30 members of the Black Panthers rallied on the steps of the California legislature, armed with shotguns. Within days, then-Governor Ronald Reagan signed the Mumford Act, containing some of the strictest gun restrictions in the US. It was done with the support of the NRA

There is no question that arguments around gun control become complicated when oppressed groups insist on their right to armed self-defence. But there is also no question that the official gun lobby, especially the NRA, is never concerned with this. The NRA has been rightfully described as the most powerful white supremacist organization in the US. 

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