A state judge in Virginia says that an emergency order issued by Gov. Ralph Northam banning guns on Capitol grounds during an upcoming annual pro-gun lobbying event is legal, despite a law allowing residents to open-carry guns.
Pro-Second Amendment groups immediately appealed the ruling ahead of the January 20 lobbying date, reports said Friday.
“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 is urging the state supreme court to reject the appeal in order to prevent “another tragedy.”
“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,” Herring said in a legal brief filed with the state’s top court.
“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,” he added.
CBS News reported that the lawsuit challenging Northam’s decision was filed by Gun Owners of America, Inc. (GOA), Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL), and citizens Kenneth VanWyk, Erich Pratt, and John Velleco, who are all planning to attend Monday’s rally.
“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.
It’s not immediately clear the Virginia Supreme Court will hear the emergency appeal.
Newly empowered Democrats who took control of the state legislature in November have vowed to make new gun control measures a priority.
Republicans are opposed to them, saying that the Second Amendment’s “infringement” clause makes it clear that gun bans and other restrictive measures are not permissible under the Constitution.
Also, the majority of jurisdictions in Virginia have declared themselves to be “gun sancturies,” where local authorities have vowed not to enforce new gun control laws they believe are unconstitutional.