RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Gov. Ralph Northam signed an executive order declaring a temporary state of emergency that will prohibit all weapons from Capitol Square as gun-rights advocates plan to hold a rally on Monday in Richmond.
The governor cited “credible threats” of violence linked to the rally when he announced the emergency declaration at a scheduled press conference Wednesday. Northam said the temporary ban was done in an effort to avoid a similar outcome as the deadly Charlottesville rally in 2017.
“The events that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia demonstrated what can happen when peaceful demonstrations are hijacked by those who come into the Commonwealth and do not value the importance of peaceful assembly. We lost three Virginians. We must take all precautions to prevent that from ever happening again,” the executive order states.
The emergency declaration will go into effect on Jan. 17 at 5 p.m. until Jan. 21 at 5 p.m. Monday’s planned rally comes on Lobby Day, a day meant to allow citizens an opportunity to share causes they find important with their elected officials.
The ban on weapons include firearms, sticks, torches, bats, shields, helmets and more. The executive order says gun owners with open and concealed carry permits will be prohibited to bring guns on Capitol grounds.
The Virginia Citizens Defense League, a pro gun-rights group planning the rally, said before Northam’s announcement they would “have our attorneys investigate this situation.”
House Minority Leader Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) shared his gratitude towards law enforcement officials planning to ensure a safe environment during the rally but he also claimed Northam’s declaration would impede citizen’s First and Second Amendment rights.
“Tens of thousands of Virginians are expected to visit Richmond Monday to assemble and petition their government,” Gilbert said in a statement Wednesday. “While we fully expect this to be peaceful, there are legitimate concerns of a few bad actors hijacking the rally. Law enforcement says those agitators are acting on their own volition and are not part of the busloads of Virginians visiting the Capitol. While we are grateful for the precautions taken by law enforcement, the Governor’s actions will unfortunately impede the ability of people to exercise not only their Second Amendment rights, but their First Amendment rights as well.”
In response to Governor Northam’s announcement the NRA says “If Virginia Gov. Northam sincerely respects the efforts of the NRA and its 5 million members, he can demonstrate that respect by not infringing our rights.”
WATCH: Gov. Northam announces state of emergency banning firearms, other weapons from Capitol grounds ahead of gun rally