“You know we can watch the video too, right?” asked social media strategist Caleb Hull.
The Comfortably SmugTwitter account joked: “Journos are confused because they’ve never heard or recited the pledge of allegiance.”
Matt Whitlock, a senior adviser to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, was among those who recalled that Gutierrez’s fellow NBC News reporter Ben Collins a day earlierfalsely calledthe event a “white nationalist rally” in a since-deleted tweet.
“At some point this starts to feel like a concerted effort by major media companies to smear,” Whitlock said.
Gutierrez responded to Whitlock with a defensive tweet. He noted that he was physically reporting from the rally and said he had heard the crowd using many different slogans.
Gabe Gutierrez and the culture wars over guns
The run-up to Monday’s rally has featured a number of dire warnings by thenews media and authorities about a supposed threat of racist violence.
Gov. Ralph Northam on Wednesday declared a state of emergencyand temporarily banned weapons on Capitol grounds. He said “armed militia groups planned to storm the Capitol” and cited credible “threats of violence.” The Supreme Court on Friday upheld his prohibition.
The FBI on Thursday arrested three members of a small neo-Nazi group who allegedly hoped to ignite a race war through violence at the gathering.
Ahead of the rally, law enforcement beefed up security measures, erecting temporary barricades and fencing and saying attendees would be screened before being allowed into the event. According to the Washington Post, the Federal Aviation Administration instituted a ban on airspace over the capitol out of concern for aerial threats, including weaponized drones.
Meanwhile, conservatives have made clear that the rally is simply meant as a protest of sweeping gun control measures that could be enacted next week by the Virginia government, which is under Democratic control for the first time in a generation.
Philip Van Cleave, leader of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, said Sunday that his Virginia Citizens Defense League was being flooded with national support for its stand against Northam and the Democrats.
“People are looking at this and saying, ‘This is a canary in the coal mine. If they’re coming after rights in Virginia, then they’ll be coming for ours as well,’” he said.
Van Cleave had rejected calls for violence, but he urged tens of thousands of armed militia leaders from across the United States to be in Richmond’s streets to provide security for his group.
A spokesman for the Capitol police said Van Cleave had worked closely with law enforcement officers on rally plans.
The National Rifle Association, which was not involved in organizing Monday’s rally, also blasted Virginia’s Democrats, who received campaign contributions last year of more than $2.5 million from Everytown for Gun Safety, started by former New York mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg.
“Anti-gun billionaires who invested millions in the 2019 Virginia elections expect a return on that investment,” said NRA official D. J. Spiker.
“The NRA is fully prepared to work to defeat Governor Northam’s gun grab — but also work to find compromise.”
President Donald Trump on Twitter Friday characterized the planned gun regulations “a very serious attack” on the Second Amendment.
“Your 2nd Amendment is under very serious attack in the great commonwealth of Virginia,” Trump said “That’s what happens when you vote for Democrats, they will take your guns away.”
Ralph Northam’s Virginia?
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, a Democrat, has vowed to push through new gun control laws. He is backing a package of eight bills, including universal background checks, a “red flag” law, a ban on assault rifles and a limit of one handgun-a-month purchase.
The state’s gun owners responded with a movement to create “sanctuary cities” for gun rights, with local government bodies passing declarations not to enforce new gun laws.
Since the November election, nearly all of Virginia’s 95 counties have some form of “sanctuary,” a term first used by localities opposed to harsh treatment of illegal immigrants.
The idea has quickly spread across the United States, with over 200 local governments in 16 states passing such measures.
Despite the pushback, proponents of stronger gun laws say they are clearly winning the argument with the public, based on who got voted into office, and blame the tension on gun supporters.
“We’re in this situation because the gun lobby has been pushing their message that we’re going to take all guns away — they’ve been fanning this fire for years,” said Michelle Sandler, a Virginia state leader for Moms Demand Action, the grassroots arm of Everytown for Gun Safety.
It is not Northam’s first bid to tighten state gun laws. He called a special legislative session last summer after the massacre of 12 people in Virginia Beach, but the Republicans who then controlled it refused to vote on his proposals.