Guns in churches, a Republican proposal to remove a segregationist statue, RIP the nation’s largest bunny, and more headlines

Virginia Mercury

NEWS TO KNOW
Our daily roundup of headlines from Virginia and elsewhere.

• Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration released its proposed definition of assault weapons it wants to ban, which targets any semiautomatic weapon with a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds.—Richmond Times-Dispatch

• Some General Assembly Republicans want to repeal a ban on guns in houses of worship in light of a recent shooting in Texas. GOP leaders in the House blocked a similar measure when they controlled the chamber last year.—WVTF

• Del. Dan Helmer, D-Fairfax, filed legislation that would shut down the shooting range the NRA operates in its Northern Virginia headquarters. An NRA spokeswoman says the group opposes the bill.—Associated Press

• “One of the General Assembly’s newest Republican delegates introduced a bill to remove a statue of Democratic governor and segregationist Harry Byrd Sr. from Capitol Square.”—VPM

• Gov. Ralph Northam, reiterating his support for giving localities the power to remove Confederate monuments and memorials, said he personally finds the displays “offensive.”—The Washington Post

• “More than 200 people rallied Thursday in support of giving eligible Virginia residents the right to obtain a driver’s license, regardless of their citizenship or immigration status.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch

• A judge in Portsmouth ruled the city can’t condemn its jail without consulting with the sheriff who operates it and told leaders they must repair the facility.—The Virginian-Pilot

• “An organizer of a 2017 white nationalist rally in Virginia has been released from jail after being held in civil contempt for failing to comply with court orders in a federal lawsuit, but a judge said he could face criminal contempt charges.”—Associated Press

• Operations resumed at the state’s top-producing coal mine following the furlough of more than 600 workers last month. “Stockpiles have been higher than expected just broadly because of the warmer weather, so I would think that would be a reasonable explanation for a short layoff,” said one industry observer.—Bristol Herald Courier

• The Southwestern Virginia town of Richlands reversed its zoning ban on tarot card readings and fortune telling as part of a settlement with the ACLU of Virginia.—Richlands News-Press

• Lord Roland Watson Beldon Maxwell VIII died. More commonly known as Junior, he was the largest rabbit in the United States, Virginia’s official Easter Bunny, an honorary fire chief and had been in the process of launching a write-in campaign for president from his home in Virginia Beach. But at age five, he was old for his breed, and his keeper said he had been having trouble with his size 4½ feet. “His heart just couldn’t take it.”—The Virginian-Pilot

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Ned Oliver
Ned, a Lexington native, has a decade’s worth of experience in journalism, beginning at The News-Gazette in Lexington, and including stints at the Berkshire Eagle, in Berkshire County, Mass., and the Times-Dispatch and Style Weekly in Richmond. He also has the awards to show for it, including taking a pair of first-place honors at the Virginia Press Association awards earlier this year for investigative reporting and feature writing. He is a graduate of Bard College at Simon’s Rock, in Great Barrington, Mass. Contact him at [email protected]