Va. Supreme Court denies effort to overturn Capitol Square gun ban

The Virginia Supreme Court building in Richmond. (Morgan Riley, CCA 3.0 via Wikimedia)

The Supreme Court of Virginia has rejected a legal challenge seeking to overturn the Capitol Square gun ban Gov. Ralph Northam ordered in preparation for Monday’s pro-gun rally.

The Virginia Citizens Defense League, the lead organizer of Monday’s event, had asked the Supreme Court to overturn a Richmond judge’s decision upholding the ban as a valid exercise of the governor’s power over state property.

In a two-page order issued Friday evening after the gun ban took effect, the court said it had not been presented with enough information to justify granting an emergency petition for an injunction overruling the lower court.

The Capitol Square gun ban – which the governor has called a necessary public safety measure in response to potential threats from far-right groups seeking to join the rally – is scheduled to be in effect from 5 p.m. Friday to 5 p.m. Tuesday.

VCDL and Gun Owners of America had argued that the governor could not use emergency powers to ban guns on the parklike grounds outside the Capitol building. Richmond Circuit Court Judge Joi Taylor disagreed, ruling that the ban fell within the governor’s broad authority to control executive branch property.

“I am confident that the majority of those attending Monday’s rally will be peaceful,” Gov. Ralph Northam said in a statement. “I have full respect for their fundamental American right to voice their opinions. But over the past few days, the news has confirmed that that this rally is attracting extreme individuals and groups —i ncluding national hate, neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups — who are threatening violence and looking to advance a violent agenda.”

Northam pledged to do “everything in my power to keep Virginians safe.”