The Associated Press ran an exclusive report late Tuesday night, claiming that Virginia Governor Ralph Northam will ban firearms at the state’s Capitol. Northam, we are told, will declare a “temporary emergency,” enabling him to prohibit guns, as well as all other weapons, from Capitol Square. Allegedly, the “declaration will also ban items like helmets and shields.”
The AP report cites two unnamed state officials as sources who were briefed on the plans but not authorized to reveal them publicly. This move is a reaction to the massive turnout expected on Monday, January 20, known as “lobby day,” when many thousands of gun-rights advocates are expected to demonstrate at the Capitol building.
The Virginia Citizens’ Defense League* (VCDL), an organization at the forefront of resistance to recent gun restrictions, released the following statement:
The Associated Press is reporting that someone in the Northam administration is saying that Northam plans to declare a state of emergency on January 20, Lobby Day.
VCDL is going to have our attorneys investigate this situation once we hear Northam’s statement on Wednesday, and we will let you know what we find out.
On Friday, Jan. 10, the newly elected Democratic majority in the Virginia legislature banned firearms in the capitol building, and their offices. House Majority Leader Charniele Herring (D) tried to pass off the ban as a response to police guidance, saying, “I just have to say that this is something that’s been recommended by our Capitol Police. And I think there are times when we sort of have to trust what our law enforcement officers are telling us.” That claim was later disproved when Capitol Police Chief Anthony Pike said after the vote that he had made no recommendations on whether guns should be banned, only on how to implement the ban Democrats wanted.
Governor Northam is often criticized for his anti-Second Amendment policies and has tried to turn Virginia from a state that widely recognizes firearms rights, to one that is openly hostile to gun owners. He has proposed and supported outright bans and confiscations, for instance, and now has a Democratic majority in the General Assembly to help pass this legislation, which failed in 2019, prior to a November election which saw the party gain control of both houses.
Northam’s efforts have met with a massive backlash by Virginia gun owners, including a sanctuary city/county movement that has local officials issuing pro-second-amendment statements that vow to protect citizens even against state authorities. As of Monday night, 130 counties and cities have passed the measures. VCDL President Phillip Van Cleave told LN, “the state is green with sanctuaries” and warned new Democratic members not to vote away Virginians’ gun rights. He has been advocating all those who care about gun rights to show up at the capitol on the 20th, to lobby their legislators, and his organization expects a massive turnout.
*The author has been a member of the VCDL.
Read more from Scott D. Cosenza.