Mother of activist Heather Heyer says proposed gun restrictions are too ‘extreme’

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The mother of Heather Heyer, the activist who was run down and killed during the Charlottesville race rally in 2017, has revealed she is a long-time gun owner and believes Virginia Democrats are going too far with their firearms restrictions.

Susan Bro spoke out as thousands of gun-rights activists – many carrying weapons – rallied in Richmond, Virginia, on Monday to protest plans by the state’s Democratic leadership to pass sweeping gun-control legislation. 

‘I grew up with guns,’ Bro told CNN on Monday. ‘I believe in common sense gun measures, but not extreme measures. And I think that those need to be discussed. I think people need to be able to talk to their representatives.’ 

Bro noted that while she believes some of the gun restrictions under consideration are ‘a bit extreme,’ other parts of the legislation are sound. 

She also slammed Donald Trump for using the moment to ‘push politics’ following tweets saying voters need to back Republicans in 2020 to protect their gun rights, and claimed the president ‘could care less about the Second Amendment.’ 

Bro’s daughter, 32-year-old paralegal Heather Heyer, was among hundreds demonstrating against white nationalists in Charlottesville in August 2017 when James Alex Fields Jr drove his car into the group, killing Heyer and injuring dozens of others.  

Fields, an avowed white supremacist from Ohio, was sentenced to a life in prison in June 2019 after pleading guilty to federal hate crime charges. 

Virginia Democrats are backing an assault weapons ban, along with bills limiting handgun purchases to once a month and background checks on gun purchases.

The new laws would also allow local authorities to ban guns in public buildings, parks and other areas. 

A proposed ‘red flag’ bill would allow authorities to temporarily take guns away from anyone deemed to be dangerous to themselves or others. 

On the eve of Monday’s pro-gun rally in the Virginia state capital, Bro urged anyone planning to resort to violence to ‘stay the hell away from Richmond,’ as she told The Independent. 

A gun rights rally is underway today in Richmond, Virginia, amid threats of violence, according to the FBI. Susan Bro, whose daughter Heather Heyer was killed in Charlottesville, says she hopes “sanity reigns today.”https://t.co/X7tVv40MQy pic.twitter.com/CNY10KbYkr

She also cautioned peaceful protesters seeking to come out and have their voices heard to be aware that there might be ‘foolish people’ in the crowd bent on stirring up hate. 

‘I’m talking about people who are gun owners who have been pushing others to really foam at the mouth about the laws in Virginia and what the Democrats might do even before the list came out. I think the list is a bit extreme, Bro added. 

‘There are some good common-sense gun laws, though, that are on that list. I hope sanity reigns today.’ 

As of Monday afternoon, there were no reports of violence or arrests during the rally in Richmond. 

Authorities in Richmond said 22,000 people showed up, and were surrounded by a heavy police presence.

The tight security in Virginia’s state capitol was law enforcement looking to avoid a repeat of the deadly violence that was seen in Charlottesville three years ago. 

The size of the rally and the expected participation of white supremacists and fringe right-wing militia groups prompted Governor Ralph Northam to declare a state of emergency, but the event concluded without incident around noon. 

The Richmond protesters, who were mostly white and male, came out in the thousands despite the chilly temperature to send a message to legislators.’

‘The government doesn’t run us, we run the government,’ said Kem Regik, a 20-year-old private security officer from northern Virginia who brought a white flag with a picture of a rifle captioned, ‘Come and take it.’

The rally coincides with the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, which is typically a chance for everyday citizens to use a day off work to lobby their legislators. 

However, the threat of violence largely kept other groups away from Virginia’s Capitol, including gun control groups that hold an annual vigil for victims of gun violence. 

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