Democrats took over both chambers of the Virginia legislature in November, and as expected, they’re pushing anti-gun laws through as quickly as they can.
On Thursday, lawmakers in the state Senate passed an the first pair of bills in a wave of gun-control legislation that is set to come up for votes. One bill would restore the state’s previous one-handgun-a-month rule, while the second would allow local governments to ban guns in public buildings, parks and at permitted events — including political protests. The vote was straight party line, 21-19.
Democrats have also proposed an assault weapons ban, red flag laws and universal background checks.
Gov. Ralph “Blackface” Northam immediately banned all guns ahead of Monday’s pro-gun rally, citing “credible and serious threats.” Virginia is an “open-carry” state, meaning residents don’t even need a concealed-carry permit but can rather just wear a gun openly.
“We have no intention of calling out the National Guard,” Northam said. “We’re not going to cut off people’s electricity. We’re not going to go door to door and confiscate people’s weapons. We’re going to pass common sense legislation that will keep guns out of dangerous hands and keep Virginia safer.”
A Virginia judge on Thursday ruled that a firearms ban can remain in place during the pro-gun rally on the Capitol grounds in Richmond. Thousands are expected to attend. Gun rights advocates appealed the ruling.
“Without relief from this court, petitioners and thousands of other rally participants will be irreparably denied their right to bear arms,” the groups’ attorneys argue in their appeal.
But Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring on Friday urged the state Supreme Court to reject the appeal.
“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,” Herring said in a legal brief.
“The plaintiffs argued the firearms ban violates the First and Second Amendments and that Northam didn’t have the authority to impose it. According to The Associated Press, Judge Joi Taylor said in her ruling the governor has the authority under state law to take action related to the “safety and welfare” of the state. Taylor also cited rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court that the right to bear arms can be subject to limits,” CBS News reported.
With Democrats in control of both legislative chambers, Republicans can do little but complain. “Ladies and gentlemen, this is probably the first assault on the Second Amendment. And we’re going to see many after that,” said Republican Sen. Bill Stanley. He argued that the bill giving localities control over guns in public spaces would create “little pockets here and there where guns are good and guns are bad.”