Many Americans breathed a collective sigh of relief Monday after pre-Inauguration rallies planned across the nation Sunday that could have become violent drew more security personnel than participants.
But the threat remained far from over.
"The National Guard and many political leaders have responded quite appropriately," said Robert Pape, a political scientist at the University of Chicago and director of the Chicago Project on Security and Threats. "This is the time to find out what the mass deployment of troops can and can't deal with."
An FBI warning of possible armed protests by supporters of President Donald Trump -who believe his false claim that the election was rigged - at the U.S. Capitol and state capitol buildings have put the nation on edge. Smoke that turned out to be from a small fire at a homeless camp near the Capitol complex on Monday prompted a brief lockdown of the buildings and sent scores of people, rehearsing outside for Wednesday's event, scrambling for cover.
"Out of an abundance of caution the U.S. Capitol complex was temporarily shut down," the Secret Service said on Twitter, adding that there was "no threat to the public."
More rallies are expected through Wednesday. In Washington, the FBI was taking no chances, vetting all of the 25,000 National Guard troops coming in for the inauguration.
In Virginia, a "Lobby Day" event Monday had police in Richmond prepped and ready. Lobby Day is an annual event organized by the gun-rights group Virginia Citizens Defense League that last year drew an estimated 20,000 people to Richmond. Caravans from around the state rolled into the city on Monday.
"We want everyone to know that we are coming to Richmond so we will be in vehicles decked out with VCDL signs and flags," the group says on its website. "We will form caravans coming from all four corners of the state, with people joining in all along the way."
Police posted notices on social media warning that signs have been put up throughout the city to "inform those who may gather that firearms are prohibited at permitted events and events that would otherwise require a permit, as well as areas adjacent to such events."
The FBI warning had suggested some possibly violent protests would take place Sunday, but few conflicts emerged. Small groups of protesters did show up at some state Capitols, including some armed at gatherings outside statehouses in Michigan, Ohio and South Carolina.
In Ohio, about 50 people rallied at the Statehouse in Columbus. Some condemned the attack on the U.S. Capitol and said they were not aligned with any political party, office-holder or candidate.
Pape said he would not be surprised if the nationwide show of force helped discourage violent protests. But he warned that even the ascension of Biden to the presidency on Wednesday doesn't mean the threat of violence will have passed.
"There is no reason to believe at all that this movement will come to an end on Inauguration Day," Pape said.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Inauguration, Capitol protests: National Guard, Richmond gun rally