HomeBlogsJeff Hewitt's blogA Gun Rally in Richmond: Thoughts and Observation.

A Gun Rally in Richmond: Thoughts and Observation.

January 21, 20201970Views

If you make an argument with a gun in your hand, you aren't making an argument. You're making a threat. Don't believe me? Ask a random person on the street for twenty dollars. Then pull out a gun and do it again. Afterwards ask the person who gave you the money if they felt like they had a choice.

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There's a low current of terror that runs through your body when you see someone holding an AR-15 in public. An immediate shock to your nervous system. Every fiber of your being tells you to run away. Add to that the fact that they're prominently displaying half a dozen loaded clips of ammo. Packing pistols on each hip and a shotgun across their back. Now, multiply that by hundreds of people surrounding you. I'm exhausted from the internal panic my body is inducing in an effort to tell me to be somewhere else.

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The second amendment supporters who came out today aren't Nazis. But they seem perfectly fine with the white nationalists in their midst. Or maybe they just don't recognize them? It's not like white nationalists walk around with flags anymore, not for the most part. Not publicly. The armbands have been replaced by a style of attire designed to grant recognition to those in the know. 4Chan trolls who wear flags around their necks like capes. Tailored button down shirts. Blazers or coats with a tie, color coded. Flannels with Fred Perry t-shirts underneath, hair close cropped and a neatly trimmed beard. White polo shirts with khakis and mirrored sunglasses. Handing out cards while intoning, "Seriously, if you'd like to learn more get in touch with me."

Patches with RRDS printed in bold: Right Wing Death Squad. I'm sure they mean it ironically.

Proud Boys marching down Cary Street, chanting. And the people cheered them. Later they'll be out under the cover of dark. Drunk and feeling invincible.

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So much of this is male ego on display. I hover and listen to the conversations. One-upmanship. Sheer machismo, spoiling for a fight. "Try and take this from me, I dare you." "You brought one gun? I've got six on me!" "That's nothing. Look at what I have!"

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Alex Jones was in town with his Jonesmobile. Screaming at people armed like they're about to march to war that Democrats are trying to steal their children. I don't even know.

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They were so proud of the fact that they picked up their trash. Yet these same people are perfectly fine with industry dumping pollution into the air. These same people cheer the disemboweling of the EPA. The disconnect confounds me.

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Ahead of today there were all manners of statements that turned out to be little more than Faulkner's sound and fury. I wrote of it, feeling that people needed to be informed of the background chatter before they decided to come out. Threats to storm the barricades and swamp the capitol grounds where guns were banned. Threats to damage the Rumors of War monument in front of the VMFA. Threats to beat up any Antifa they saw. I reported these knowing that they could be nothing more than power-fantasies on the part of basement-dwelling keyboard trolls. I had sources from within the activist community. In one case I had a source from within a well-known white nationalist organization. And so I decided to run what I had. Call it fearmongering if you wish, I felt like I had a responsibility to warn people about what was possible.

I spoke with an activist afterwards, asked their opinion of why none of this came to pass. I was told that there were efforts coordinated with moderate pro-2A groups that are highly anti-fascist to discourage bad actors. The lack of any overt counter-protesting presence. A widely disseminated narrative throughout white nationalist ranks that the whole thing was a trap set by Feds kept a lot of the more dangerous elements away. The highly disciplined operation run by law enforcement focused on defusing tension. And leaders of the rally absolutely didn't want a bloodbath that would discredit their argument. All of these things combined to keep the day largely free of overt violence.

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Still, while they’ll tell you this was a peaceful protest, it was a peace backed by enough firepower to overthrow a local government. Is it peaceful when someone holds up a machine gun and says do this or else? At the end of the day, you had a group of mostly white (not all, but mostly) older folks screaming about a tyrannical government that must be resisted. That the act of elections and passing laws is somehow the work of a dictator. And that it's going to necessitate violence to correct. Doing so on Martin Luther King Day. Make of that whatever you will.

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I've largely kept my own views on the subject of guns out of writing about this before and after the rally. Obviously, I don't like them. And obviously, I'm in favor of gun control. I don't really feel like arguing the issue because the argument seems pointless. You aren't going to change your mind, and I'm not going to change mine. And if, after reading this, you feel the urge to message me and tell me why I'm wrong? Save the electricity you'll expend to do so. You're wasting your time, and I honestly don't give a fuck what you think of me.

Personally, I feel like the laws proposed were mostly useless as they didn't go far enough. And the ones that were passed are of the most innocuous variety. You're only allowed to buy one gun a month now. You need to have a background check run if you're doing a private transfer of a firearm. This is what brought 6000 pissed off gun people to our capitol. Imagine what will happen if we ever have the balls to pass more stricter regulation.

And in the meantime, people keep dying. It is what it is, I guess. We dodged a bullet here, and that's worth feeling decent about, I suppose. It could have been so much worse.

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Words and pictures by Jeff Hewitt