RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A gun-rights group has filed an emergency appeal of a judge’s ruling upholding a ban on firearms at a rally expected to draw thousands of gun activists to Virginia next week.
The Virginia Citizens Defense League and Gun Owners of America filed a lawsuit Thursday seeking an injunction against the ban, which Gov. Ralph Northam imposed for a planned rally Monday near the Virginia Capitol.
Gov. Ralph Northam had announced the ban on Wednesday as he declared a state of emergency over threats of “armed militia groups storming our Capitol."
The judge’s order Thursday came hours after the FBI announced the arrest of three alleged white supremacists in Maryland.
A judge ruled within hours that the governor has the authority to take action related to “safety and welfare” in Virginia.
But late Thursday, the gun-rights groups asked the Supreme Court of Virginia to issue an order prohibiting enforcement of the ban.
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring is urging the court to reject the effort to overturn the ban on guns at a rally.
He released a brief that says in part:
"On August 12, 2017, three Virginians were killed and dozens were injured during a permitted rally that turned violent in Charlottesville. “Opposing groups arrived early, armed and ready for conflict, many traveling from across the country to participate. Violent clashes ensued between protesters and counter protesters.”
"In recent days, the Governor received “[c]redible intelligence . . . that tens of thousands of advocates plan to converge on Capitol Square for events culminating on January 20, 2020.” Executive Order Forty-Nine at 1 (Northam) (EO). In particular, “[a]vailable information suggests that a substantial number of these demonstrators are expected to come from outside the Commonwealth, may be armed, and have as their purpose not peaceful assembly but violence, rioting, and insurrection.” Id.
“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. 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. [Pg 1-2]”
The entire brief can be found HERE.
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