The Virginia Supreme Court has upheld a weapons ban that Democrat Gov. Ralph Northam instituted for the area in and around Richmond’s Capitol Square for the period between Friday and Tuesday, CBS News reported.
Northam said that the ban was necessary after threats were made in response to a planned gun rights demonstration in observance of “Lobby Day” on Monday. According to local CBS affiliate WTVR, the threats included a pledge from militia groups that they would “storm the Capitol” and another that involved the use of weaponized drones.
The Gun Owners of America (GOA) and the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL) filed an appeal to the state Supreme Court on Thursday to block Northam’s executive order, arguing that it violated the First and Second Amendment rights of those intended to participate and also that Northam lacked the necessary legal authority to order the ban, according to NBC Washington.
The three-page ruling issued by the court on Friday said that “the Capitol Grounds ban [on weapons] does not impinge upon a right protected by the Second Amendment” and declined to overturn Northam’s order.
State of emergency
The weapons ban was issued as part of a temporary state of emergency declared by Northam, and it included everything from sticks and bats to firearms. The court action by GOA and VCDL only sought to overturn the firearms ban.
Northam said that the threats that had been made in the run-up to Lobby Day were similar to those received prior to the 2017 Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally.
That event received international attention when heated clashes erupted between protest groups, leaving one person dead many other injured. Northam said this time, he wants to prevent similar violence from occurring again.
The FBI arrested three men on Thursday linked to a “racially motivated violent extremist group” and who Northam said had “malicious plans” for Monday’s rally, according to NPR.
Battle heats up
Northam has made significant efforts to restrict gun rights since becoming governor of Virginia in 2018. Since late 2019, when the legislature became Democrat-controlled, he has attempted to institute a ban on the possession of assault weapons, but he has backed off on promises of widespread enforcement in the face of growing opposition from citizens, including those residing in more than 100 localities in the state that have declared themselves “gun rights sanctuaries” in which officials will oppose attempts to limit Second Amendment freedoms.
So what does a liberal governor do when he’s getting intense pushback about taking people’s guns away?
He finds a way. That’s what the response to these threats is: a way to get around public opinion as well as the Second Amendment.
Maybe the threats of violence surrounding this weekend’s rally in Richmond are real, and maybe they’re not. Either way, they’re giving Northam cover for the extreme and unconstitutional actions that he has been trying to take ever since he was elected.