Richmond judge upholds Northam’s temporary weapons ban on Capitol grounds; appeal heading to VA Supreme Court

Capitol Connection

VCDL President says they plan to appeal

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Gun-rights groups are appealing a Richmond Circuit Court judge’s decision to uphold Governor Ralph Northam’s executive order temporarily banning all weapons on Capitol grounds.

Northam (D) signed the executive order ahead of next week’s pro-gun rally on Lobby Day, where tens of thousands of supporters are expected to convene.

The plaintiffs in the suit, the Virginia Citizen’s Defense League, who did threaten legal action before Northam made his announcement Wednesday, Gun Owners of America, Erich Pratt, John Velleco and Kenneth Van Wyk, were asking for an immediate hold on the governor’s ban. They claimed the governor’s state of emergency violated citizens’ First Amendment rights.

“It’s ironic that this about gun rights and the governor is trying to take away our ability to carry guns,” Philip Van Cleave, president of the VCDL, told 8News. “How ironic is that?” 

Van Cleave later confirmed to 8News that the VCDL plans to appeal the decision. Northam said the judge’s ruling to deny the injunction was “the right decision” in a statement Thursday.

This is the right decision. I took this action to protect Virginians from credible threats of violence. These threats are real—as evidenced by reports of neo-Nazis arrested this morning after discussing plans to head to Richmond with firearms.

I’m grateful to the Circuit Court for recognizing the seriousness of these threats, and for upholding this reasonable, legal action to protect all Virginians, including demonstrators and policymakers. I will continue to do everything in my power to keep Virginians safe.”

Gov. Ralph Northam

An emergency appeal has been filed.

On Friday morning, Attorney General Mark Herring’s office asked the Supreme Court of Virginia to deny the appeal.

The brief said, in part: “Determined to prevent another tragedy, the Governor issued a carefully limited Executive Order. The Order does not prevent anyone from speaking, assembling, or petitioning the government. Instead, it temporarily precludes private possession of firearms in a sensitive public place during a specified time to protect public safety and safeguard the rights of all citizens to peacefully speak, assemble, and petition their government.”

AG Herring’s full brief can be found here.

Stay with 8News for updates to this developing story.

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