FAA issues temporary flight restrictions notice ahead of Richmond gun rally

Virginia News

FAA's restrictions temporarily ban drones near Capitol

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Federal Aviation Administration issued temporary flight restrictions for Richmond on Monday, designating the airspace as “National Defense Airspace” until after Lobby Day, when thousands of gun-rights activists plan to pack Capitol Square.

“Any person who knowingly or willingly violates the rules concerning operations in this airspace may be subject to certain criminal penalties under 49 USC 46307,” the FAA’s notice said.

Security measures near Capitol grounds have ratcheted up since gun-rights groups announced plans to hold a massive rally during Lobby Day, a day meant for citizens to lobby legislators in favor of causes they find important.

On Wednesday, Gov. Ralph Northam (D) signed an executive order temporarily banning firearms and all other weapons around Capitol Square from Friday until Tuesday evening. The governor cited “credible, serious threats” found online and offline with violent rhetoric “similar” to what law enforcement officials have seen before at past events, “such as Charlottesville.”

“We have received credible intelligence from our law enforcement agencies that there are groups with malicious plans for the rally that is planned for Monday,” Northam said when announcing the temporary weapons ban.

The FAA’s temporary ban includes drones, a potential threat Northam also mentioned during his press conference Wednesday.

“Pilots who do not adhere to the following procedures may be intercepted, detained and interviewed by enforcement/security personnel,” the flight restriction notice also said.

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