Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam declared an impending state of emergency today and issued an executive order banning firearms and other weapons near a pro-gun rally planned for Monday in Richmond.
Northam's executive order and state of emergency, effective from 5 p.m. Friday until 5 p.m. Tuesday, bans non-law enforcement-related weapons from an approximately three-by-three-block area enclosing the state capitol building and grounds.
Northam, a Democrat, made the announcement today in advance of the Virginia Citizens Defense League's Lobby Day, an event slated for 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday at the Pocahontas Building, which is just outside the gun-free zone established by Northam.
The VCDL's event, which Northam's executive order says may draw "tens of thousands of advocates," is intended to "send a message to the General Assembly and to the Governor, Attorney General, and the Lt. Governor" that pro-Second Amendment citizens will not tolerate any more gun control legislation "that in any way, shape, or form negatively affects law-abiding gun owners," as stated on the event's Frequently Asked Questions webpage at http://tiny.cc/lobbydayfaq.
"Bills that go after criminals or bills that are beneficial to gun owners are fine," the FAQ states.
Northam, in his executive order, says that "available 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." The state already bans non-law-enforcement weapons inside government buildings.
In the VCDL Lobby Day FAQ, under "Can we carry?" the organization tells attendees that "We don’t tell you to carry or not."
"If you do, please do so legally and responsibly," the FAQ states. "You can't have a magazine in a centerfire rifle or pistol that holds more than 20 rounds unless you have a Concealed Handgun Permit (CHP). You must also have a CHP if the centerfire rifle or pistol has a threaded barrel or a folding stock."
Northam's executive order also bans non-law-enforcement-related weapons from certain parking lots owned by the state near the capitol.
According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Northam's executive order was opposed by state senate Minority Leader Tommy Norment, R-James City; state senate Republican Caucus Chairman Ryan McDougle, R-Hanover; and state senate Republican Caucus Co-Chairman Mark Obenshain, R-Rockingham. The three Republicans issued a joint statement in which they expressed concern that the governor's action “may be serving to heighten rather than assuage tensions," according to The Times-Dispatch.
Read Northam's executive order here.
The Facebook event page for VCDL's Lobby Day is here.