By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - Thousands of gun rights demonstrators flocked to Virginia's capital on Monday in a bid to push back on gun control legislation being contemplated in the Democratic-controlled state legislature.
Concerns of violence taking place at the assembly were raised when militias and far-right groups said they would join the demonstration at Virginia's Capitol building in Richmond, but the rally has been largely peaceful with one man reported taken into custody for trespassing, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch newspaper.
The crowd of mostly white, male demonstrators held signs emblazoned with pro-gun mantras including "Come and Take It," and "Don't Tread On Me." Others bore stickers that claimed "Guns Save Lives." Several "Trump 2020" banners were also spotted in the group.
The rally took place on Virginia's "Lobby Day," which coincides with the Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday. It is typically a day where Virginians who have the day off from work advocate with their representatives for various causes. But Monday's demonstrations were overwhelmingly seeking to thwart efforts to institute strong gun control legislation.
The rally concluded at noon without any major incidents being reported.
U.S. President Donald Trump cheered on the demonstration, claiming on Twitter "The Democrat Party in the Great Commonwealth of Virginia are working hard to take away your 2nd Amendment rights."
"This is just the beginning. Don’t let it happen, VOTE REPUBLICAN in 2020!" he said.
There was a strong police presence at Monday's rally in a bid to avoid the violence that left a counter-demonstrator dead during the 2017 "Unite the Right" rally of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, which is about two hours away from the state capital.
Heather Heyer was killed when James Fields, Jr. rammed his vehicle into a crowd of demonstrators, injuring over two other victims. Fields, Jr. has been sentenced twice to life in prison for the crimes.