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Deconstructing Governor Northam’s Emergency Declaration Banning Guns: How 2A Supporters Are Responding

Gabriella Hoffman
by Gabriella Hoffman Read Profile arrow_right_alt

Yesterday afternoon, Governor Ralph Northam (D-VA) announced he would be enacting an emergency declaration, EO 49, temporarily banning weapons—including firearms— in Virginia’s Capital Square leading up to Monday’s annual Lobby Day in Richmond, VA.

The emergency declaration will be in effect from Friday, January 17th, at 5:00 PM until Tuesday, January 21st, at 5:00 PM.

Lobby Day is held annually by the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL). The first one was held in 2002.

In wake of Democrats retaking both chambers of the General Assembly and pre-filing extreme gun control bills, a Second Amendment Sanctuary movement has taken off.

The majority of our 95 counties—including our largest city—have declared themselves sanctuary counties, towns, cities or constitutional cities. As a result, this year’s Lobby Day expects thousands of Second Amendment supporters in our state capital. Event organizers anticipate upwards of 100,000 people descending to Richmond Monday morning.

The widespread, mounting opposition to these gun control proposals clearly isn’t sitting well with the governor.

Governor Northam tweeted, “We have received credible intelligence from our law enforcement agencies of threats of violence surrounding the demonstration planned for Monday, January 20. This includes extremist rhetoric similar to what has been seen before major incidents, such as Charlottesville in 2017.”

He added, “This intelligence suggests militia groups and hate groups, some from out of state, plan to come to the Capitol to disrupt our democratic process with acts of violence.”

And topped it off with this:

Oddly enough, Northam lended praise to the National Rifle Association, whom he previously disparaged, for holding a peaceful event on January 13th, 2020. He then pressed VCDL who organizes Lobby Day, to be peaceful as in years’ past. (Why wouldn’t they be?) NRA’s statement then called on Northam to not infringe on Virginians’ rights.

Washington Free Beacon’s Stephan Gutowski explained more:

Capital workers have reportedly erected a barricade in wake of Monday’s event. If true, it’s ironic to see the Northam’s administration do this.

In their morning email blast today, VCDL’s statement strongly condemned Northam’s emergency declaration banning guns in Capital Square and surrounding areas—which they deemed “illegal.” They added their legal team is reviewing options.

I’m told VCDL will be filing an injunction soon. I’ll report those details when they are made available.

The statement added, “Every year since 2002, VCDL has come to the General Assembly to peacefully assemble and lobby our elected officials on Martin Luther King Day.  The only difference this year is that the crowd size is expected to be significantly larger due to the Democrat leadership’s promise to pass draconian gun control laws that would adversely affect law-abiding citizens while having minimal impact on criminals.”

Moreover, the bulletin noted neither Governor Northam nor his law enforcement detail briefed them on any potential threats to Monday’s event and suggested Virginia Democrats are wishing for the event to not go peacefully:

The Governor claimed in his Executive Order that there has been credible intelligence gathered suggesting that the purpose of many of the participants in VCDL’s Lobby Day is not to peacefully assemble but instead is to foment “violence, rioting, and insurrection.”  Yet, neither the Governor nor any of his law enforcement has informed VCDL of any of these alleged threats.

The inflammatory rhetoric from Democrats (including the Governor, Attorney General, Congressman McEachin, Delegate Levine, and many others) regarding the Second Amendment Sanctuary movement and VCDL’s Lobby Day leads us to wonder if they really want Lobby Day to go peacefully. 

Does Governor Northam’s emergency declaration have legal ground to stand on? One former Virginia lawmaker, Delegate Mike Watson, says it doesn’t.

He and another Republican lawmaker ushered in HR20, which makes it illegal to ban firearms in the event of an emergency declaration. Former Governor Bob McDonnell (R-VA) signed the bill into law in March 2012. It’s codified into law as  § 44-146.15 .

Bearing Arms’ Editor-in-Chief Cam Edwards noted Governor Northam is potentially exploiting the shelter provision of current law, declaring the state capital and surrounding areas a “shelter” before Monday’s proceedings, to severely limit peaceful carry of firearms permitted in our state:

VCDL’s email blast proceeded to encourage Lobby Day participants to not bring items or encourage views and actions that deviate from the intention of the event: to lobby all lawmakers, pro- or anti-gun, in a peaceful and cordial manner.

SITUATIONAL AWARENESS:  There have been many rumors, videos, and articles flying around the internet. We cannot stress enough that this is a peaceful day to assemble and address our Legislature about protecting our right to keep and bear arms.  Lobby Day is NOT about statues, flags, racism, sexism, or anything other than protecting the right to keep and bear arms for ALL law-abiding citizens.

Yes, we hold a rally, but the point of the day is communication with our legislators.  (Note that a rally is not the same thing as a protest.)

To our knowledge there are no credible threats of violence.  That being said, please practice appropriate situational awareness.  
IF YOU SEE A BAD ACTOR flag down a police officer and point it out.  If someone tries to provoke you, smile and walk away.  There is probably someone secretly recording the interaction, with the intent of capturing some kind of inappropriate reaction on your part.  Don’t take the bait. It’s not worth the bad press.  Again, you might want to notify law enforcement of such bad actors.

In regards to the 2017 Charlottesville rally comparison, a Capitol Police spokesman said comparing Lobby Day to this rally is wrong and dangerous.

Governor Northam himself claims that there have been credible, though unspecified threats that require him to ban guns from the capitol grounds, though a spokesperson for the Capitol Police told USA Today that there’s no resemblance between Lobby Day and what happened in Charlottesville in August of 2018.

Macenka said Capitol Police have not heard much from out-of-state groups but dismissed the comparison between the lobby day and Charlottesville attack. “Charlottesville didn’t seem to have any purpose. People seemed to come together bent on committing violence,” Macenka said. “There is some very serious legislation at issue here.”

Republican Leadership also issued a statement condemning and questioning Governor Northam invoking this emergency declaration.

There’s a lot of information to account for and I’ll do my best to provide all the accurate, latest details for our readership here at The Resurgent.

I’ll be at Lobby Day this Monday on behalf of our publication and will report on anything that happens. Stand by….


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