No matter whose crowd count estimates one relies upon, there is little doubt there was a significant turnout Monday in Richmond, Va., to protest that state's proposed new gun laws. It was significant not just for the sheer numbers but also for what did not happen.
For several days leading up to the peaceful rally — attended by 22,000 (according to some estimates) — Second Amendment supporters, we were nearly promised there would be civil unrest by those opposed to the state's clear overreach in restricting gun ownership and access.
Since Democrats gained control of Virginia's House, Senate and executive branches, they have promised wide-ranging gun legislation.
That has included a bill, as reported by The Southwest Times newspaper, that would make it illegal to possess, own or sell a number of firearms that previously have been legal, including, for example, semi-automatic rifles with a fixed capacity of greater than 10 rounds or owning a center-file rifle that could accept a detachable magazine. The same restriction would apply to pistols.
What got many gun owners understandably riled was the suggestion by Virginia Rep. Donald McEachin that Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam could deploy the state's National Guard to enforce the new law.
What prompted talk of extreme measures is the fact 86 of Virginia's 95 counties have declared themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries.
Once the rally was announced, Gov. Northam quickly sounded the alarm that violence was seemingly inevitable, immediately comparing it to Charlottesville in 2017, and declared a state of emergency. He deployed extra police security and erected fencing to contain the protesters. The national media quickly picked up Northam's shrill concerns, with dire warnings of impending violence.
NBC News reporter Ben Collins sent out a now-deleted tweet in which he casually called it a "white nationalist rally," while, ironically, urging his fellow reporters not to report rumors.
"Reporters covering tomorrow's white nationalist rally in Virginia, I'm absolutely begging you: Verify information before you send it out tomorrow, even if it's a very sensational rumor you heard from a cop," Collins tweeted. "Don't become a hero in neo-Nazi propaganda circles with made-up stuff." Collins should have followed his own advice.
CNN and MSNBC predictably ran numerous reports and commentaries that warned of impending violence while castigating attendees as being the very worst of society.
Then something happened. There was no violence.
The disappointment in the voices of those in the media that pitched the notion of impending violence was palpable as each report Monday was seemingly preceded by the phrase "so far," as in "so far there have been no reports of violence."
The rally's makeup was far from being a gathering of neo-Nazis or other such. Virginia sheriffs from some of the sanctuary counties showed up in uniform in support of the rally, and some even held a banner that read "We support the Second Amendment."
The gathering also reflected a bit of diversity.
“I love this. This is like the Super Bowl for the Second Amendment right here,” said P.J. Hudson, a truck driver from Richmond who carried an AR-15 rifle just outside Capitol Square. He was one of the few African-American rally goers in the crowd that was overwhelmingly white and male, and frequently was stopped and asked to pose for pictures wearing his “Black Guns Matter” sweatshirt.
Media outlets, publishing an Associated Press report, acknowledged the rally was "largely festive, with rally-goers chanting 'USA!'"
Afterward, video even emerged of rally attendees picking up and bagging trash before they left. The horrors!
Gov. Northam tried to take credit for the lack of violence, saying the teams of security "successfully deescalated what could have been a volatile situation." Ironic in that it was Northam's rhetoric that set in motion talk of violence.
In the end, though, once again it was demonstrated that legal gun owners tend to be among the most responsible citizens. There was no violence, there were no vulgar chants.
No, it was just a gathering of Americans of every stripe concerned about losing rights guaranteed them in the U.S. Constitution.
In other words, the exact kind of people many politicians truly fear.