Virginia gun laws

Gun Rights Activist Protests With Shotgun Outside Virginia Delegate’s Home

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A Virginia state delegate is asking police to file charges against a gun rights activist who protested outside the delegate's home in Alexandria on Saturday with a long gun.

Del. Mark Levine says the activist may have committed a crime by sharing his address online with the intention of intimidating him. The activist, Brandon Howard, says he was just protesting peacefully.

Levine — a Democrat who represents parts of Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfaxsponsored the assault weapons bill that failed in committee on Monday. The bill would have prohibited the sale of some semiautomatic firearms, banned bump stocks and banned the possession of magazines that hold more than 12 rounds.

Last weekend, before the state Senate voted on the bill, Howard issued a call to action.

"We're going to tell Mark Levine: We know where you live and armed citizens of the Commonwealth are going to come to your house, to your doorstep," he said in a Facebook video.

Howard, of Hopewell, Virginia, heads a group called Right to Bear Arms Virginia. In the video, he provided Levine's home address in Old Town Alexandria and invited others to join him there.

"We are going to take our destiny into our own hands," he said.

On Saturday afternoon, Levine looked out his kitchen window and saw a man with a long gun slung over his shoulder, a Virginia state flag and a sign reading "Withdraw HB 961." Levine called police, who came and kept watch.

He was furious. On Monday, he vented to his House colleagues about what happened.

"What's not appropriate is to come to my house with a loaded gun to coerce me to change my position on a bill," he said. "That will not work. That will never work with me and I suggest it will never work with this body."

Levine said he believes Howard may have broken a state law that prohibits publishing someone's name or photograph "with the intent to coerce, intimidate, or harass" them. The crime is a misdemeanor.

"Are we going to say that it's OK to take loaded assault weapons with extended magazines and go and threaten every elected official?" Levine said in an interview Tuesday.

Howard said Levine has it all wrong. He called his action on Saturday a peaceful protest. He said he carried a Rock Island VR60 12-gauge shotgun and a Bersa Thunder 380 handgun.

"My goal was to tell him we the people will not tolerate tyrants stripping the rights of the law-abiding citizen," he said in an interview Tuesday. "There was no coercion. There was no intimidation."

Alexandria police confirmed they received a complaint from the delegate and said they were investigating.

Levine said that if what happened Saturday is not a crime, he will seek legislation next year to make it one.

"If it's not illegal, I'm going to be damned sure by next year it is illegal," he said.

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