These gun enthusiasts at the Virginia rally carried more firepower than many US troops

Stephanie Keith/ReutersA person holds a sign stating ‘all gun control is racist’ on a Gun Lobby Day in front of the Virginia State Capitol building in Richmond, Virginia, January 20, 2020.
  • Thousands of heavily armed men and women braved the 30-degree temperatures in Richmond, Virginia, on Monday to proudly show off their firearms and its accompanying accessories.
  • Some enthusiasts near the Virginia capitol carried a.50 calibre rifle capable of firing armour-piercing rounds or an underbarrel grenade launcher. One controversial radio host even rode in an armoured vehicle and warned through its PA system, “If they try to take our firearms, 1776 will commence again!”
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Thousands of heavily armed men and women braved the 30-degree temperatures in Richmond, Virginia, on Monday to proudly show off their firearms and its accompanying accessories.

The annual gun-rights rally was largely held to lobby lawmakers and protest the new set of gun-reform bills proposed by a Democratic majority in the Virginia House and Senate. The rally was clouded by safety concerns, which Virginia’s Democratic governor, Ralph Northam, said was prompted by “credible threats of violence.”

Northam cited state intelligence that indicated armed militia groups were planning to storm the Capitol during the event, prompting him to declare a state of emergency and issuing a temporary ban against firearms on Capitol grounds.

While thousands of unarmed gun enthusiasts entered the Capitol grounds to protest, thousands more stood outside the secure zone, toting their firearms and tactical accessories.

Here are some of the firearms and equipment the enthusiasts displayed at the rally:

Around 6,000 people were estimated to have taken to the Capitol, and another 16,000 outside a secure zone.

Jim Urquhart/ReutersGun rights advocates and militia members walk past a banner that reads ‘Come and Take It’ after a rally in Richmond, Virginia, January 20, 2020.

Protesters chanting “we will not comply” and waving signs likening gun control to racism flooded the area, armed with their firearms and tactical gear.

Despite the presence of firearms, the protests were largely peaceful. A 21-year-old woman was arrested and charged with wearing a mask at the event, despite multiple warnings from law enforcement officers, according to ABC News affiliate WVEC.

M203 grenade-style launcher.

Stephanie Keith/Reuters

One person decked out in tactical gear carried an underbarrel M203 grenade-style launcher attached to a modified assault weapon, which appeared to include a collapsible buttstock for greater firearm control, a laser mount for accuracy, and a holographic sight.

These modifications surpass the effectiveness of standard-issued gear for many US service members. They also may have complied with existing laws. Colt Manufacturing, the iconic company that once created M-16 and AR-15 variants, was one of the few companies that produced a $US2,000 M203 that complied with civilian regulations.

This particular M203, which would ordinarily be used for 40mm grenades by the US military, was repurposed to shoot 37mm non-lethal smoke and flare rounds, according to Task & Purpose.

Terradyne armoured vehicle.

Leah Millis/ReutersAmerican radio host Alex Jones speaks from an armoured vehicle during a rally against the Virginia Democrats’ plan to pass gun legislation, at the Virginia State Capitol building, in Richmond, Virginia, January 20, 2020.

Conservative provocateur and embattled showman Alex Jones rode inside a truck made by the Canada-based armoured vehicle company Terradyne.

“If they try to take our firearms, 1776 will commence again!” Jones reportedly yelled in a microphone, referring to the year when the 13 American colonies declared their independence from Britain.

Terradyne includes a 6.7 litre V-8 turbo diesel motor capable of producing 330-horsepower for all of its rapid-patrol vehicle variants, including a civilian version.

The company on its website describes the vehicle for “discerning individuals” who require “executive protection” or a “rolling panic room.”

Barrett M82A1.

Stephanie Keith/Reuters

Another person was pictured clinging on to a Barrett M82A1, a rifle capable of firing armour-piercing .50 calibre rounds.

The individual, who owns an indoor shooting gallery in New York, according to The Washington Post, said he visited the rally to show his support for gun rights.

“This sends a strong visual message,” the man said to The Post. “The government is not above us. They are us.”

Virginia has no regulations that prohibit the ownership of .50 calibre rifles, according to the gun-reform group Giffords Law Centre to Prevent Gun Violence.

The rifle, which is distributed in limited amounts to combat-focused US military units and Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) personnel, is used only in special circumstances, such as shooting vehicles or unexploded ordnance from a safe distance.

Tactical gear.

Jim Urquhart/Reuters

While some of the protesters carried firearms capable of inflicting serious damage against buildings and vehicles, others wearing tactical gear were content with their assault weapons.

Some of the attire, which resembled that of a law enforcement personnel in an urban environment, included VELCRO patches that displayed their blood type and allergies – features that are typically displayed on uniforms by police and US service members operating in austere conditions.

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