The president weighed in before thousands were expected to gather in Virginia’s capital for a gun rights rally.
RICHMOND, Va. — Days before a planned gun rights rally that has set Virginia’s capital on edge, President Trump warned that state Democrats were threatening Americans’ right to bear arms.
“Your 2nd Amendment is under very serious attack in the Great Commonwealth of Virginia,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter on Friday. “That’s what happens when you vote for Democrats, they will take your guns away. Republicans will win Virginia in 2020. Thank you Dems!”
The state legislature, where Democrats recently took control for the first time in a generation, is considering several gun control bills, including measures that would require background checks for people purchasing firearms and give municipalities the authority to ban weapons in public buildings.
Thousands of people are expected to descend on the Capitol in Richmond on Monday to protest those measures, in a state where hunting is popular and gun ownership is common in rural areas. Several men with ties to right-wing militias who had planned to attend the rally have been arrested in recent days.
On Saturday, the area around the State Capitol was enclosed by a temporary chain-link fence, barricades and patrolled by groups of law enforcement officers.
Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency and banned firearms and other weapons on the Capitol grounds this week, further inflaming gun rights activists. The order was challenged in court by the rally’s organizers, the Virginia Citizens Defense League. On Friday evening, the State Supreme Court upheld the ban.
Mr. Trump’s position on gun rights has been difficult to pin down during his time in office. He supported “meaningful background checks” in the weeks after deadly mass shootings in Texas and Ohio last year, but later walked back that support after meeting with gun rights activists, including the president of the National Rifle Association.
That turnabout mirrored the president’s shift after the 2018 shooting in Parkland, Fla., when he expressed support for stronger gun controls and then backtracked after speaking with N.R.A. officials.
In Virginia, Mr. Northam released a statement on Friday saying that the vast majority of those planning to attend the rally on Monday had no interest in creating disturbances, but that some were bent on stoking violence.
“Over the past few days, the news has confirmed that this rally is attracting extreme individuals and groups — including national hate, neo-Nazi, and white supremacist groups — who are threatening violence and looking to advance a violent agenda.”