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Gun-Toting Hopewell GOP Chair Protests Outside Delegate’s House

Gun-toting man walks along road while someone holds flag
Hopewell Republican chair Brendon Howard protests outside the Alexandria home of Del. Mark Levine. (Mark Levine)

A Democratic lawmaker who is leading an effort to ban assault weapons in Virginia has asked local prosecutors to consider pressing charges against a gun-toting Republican Party chair who protested outside his home on Saturday.

Del. Mark Levine (D-Alexandria) said Brandon Howard, chair of the Hopewell Republican Party and head of the gun group Right to Bear Arms Virginia, may have violated Virginia statutes related to intimidation and harassment.

Levine referred the case to Alexandria City Commonwealth Attorney Bryan Porter, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Howard posted Levine’s home address to a Facebook event prior to his protest, and read it again in a video he posted to the platform on Saturday.

"I hope you kissed your wife,” Howard said in the video. “I hope you kissed your husband. I hope you kiss your children goodbye before you come and take mine [firearm], because that’s the last time you’d have ever kissed them in your life."

Levine, who got wind of the protest through the Facebook event, called the police. A third protestor decided to sit it out after seeing the police presence, according to Howard.

Levine told VPM News that he watched Howard patrol the perimeter of his home wielding a military-style semi-automatic shotgun and pistol.

“I just don't think decisions in America should be made at the point of a gun,” Levine said. “I think that happens in Syria and Somalia and Russia, North Korea, but I think in our country, politicians shouldn't make up their mind because they're afraid of being shot.”

Levine’s proposed assault weapons ban cleared the House of Delegates last week; it would allow existing assault weapons owners to keep their guns.

Howard sparked controversy by leading a group carrying assault weapons through the Alexandria Farmers Market. He also launched a run for Hopewell City Council by saying he would give away firearms, according to NBC-12.

Howard said in a Facebook message that the comments were “not threats to any one person or anyone.”

“Those who would come to strip those of their rights are domestic enemies of the Constitution,” Howard wrote. “We will continue to go to the homes of tyrants who wish to violate the rights of the people.”

In a follow-up phone call, Howard said Levine’s home address was available through a simple Google search, and that conservatives like Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson had also endured protests at their homes.

“When a conservative uses their own tactics against them, people are all up in arms,” Howard said.

Levine said he had received several death threats since the start of the legislative session. Other Democrats, including Sen. Mamie Locke (D-Newport News), Del. Lee Carter (D-Manassas), and Del. Dan Helmer (D-Fairfax), have also publicly noted threats.

*Correction: A previous version of this story identified Hopewell as a county. Hopewell is an independent city - a county-equivalent in Census terms. The story has been updated to remove the word "county."

Ben Paviour covers state politics for VPM News with a focus on accountability journalism.