A group of gun rights orgs, US Law Shield, a local gun store and four individuals have sued the city of Winchester, Virginia over an ordinance that limits where gun owners can carry firearms in the city. Virginia used to have a preemption law that prevented local governments from enacting their own gun control laws. But that ended last year when the Democrat-controlled legislature allowed localities to ban the “possession, carrying, or transportation of any firearms, ammunition, or components or combination thereof,” even by concealed handgun permit holders in many locations.
The commonwealth’s anti-gun blackface-wearing governor was only too happy to sign the change into law.
From the VCDL’s press release . . .
For many years, all of Virginia’s gun laws were enacted by the General Assembly to apply to the entire Commonwealth. That way, Virginians and visitors could live their lives and travel freely without worrying about violating a crazy quilt of city and county restrictions.
All that changed on July 1, 2020, when Virginia empowered localities to ban firearms in certain locations. In response, a handful of left-leaning cities and counties, including the City of Winchester, have imposed such restrictions, which place Virginians at risk of spending up to a year in jail for violation of obscure, vague, and confusing ordinances.
In those localities, firearms restrictions are being imposed at or near a wide range of public events where permits were or should have been issued, including parks. It is almost impossible to know where the law bans possession of firearms, but it even applies to a business that is open to the public from having its owner possess a firearm in the store at certain times. The Winchester ordinance contains no exemption for those with valid Concealed Carry Permits, or even for state judges.
That’s what’s prompted the plaintiffs to file suit.
Now, Virginia Citizens Defense League, Gun Owners of America, Gun Owners Foundation, U.S. Law Shield of Virginia, Stonewall Arms, and several individuals have filed suit against the City of Winchester and its Chief of Police. This suit asks the Court to enjoin Winchester from violating the constitutional rights of Virginians to “keep and bear” arms so they can defend themselves when living, working, and traveling within the city of Winchester.
They complaint argues that the City of Winchester’s new ordinance violates the commonwealth’s constitution.
The suit alleges that the Winchester ordinance violates no fewer than four provisions of the Virginia Constitution — those protecting: (i) the right to keep and bear arms; (ii) the right to be afforded due process of law by being given clear notice of what a criminal law prohibits; (iii) the right to free speech and assembly; and (iv) the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.
In addition to violating the Constitution, this ordinance puts residents of and visitors to Winchester into danger. The overwhelming number of mass shootings occur in “gun free zones,” where criminals know they will meet little resistance, and thus this ordinance increases the danger to every person who lives, works in, or visits Winchester.
Other cities in the state have enacted similar ordinances since the legislature gutted the preemption law, so if this action is successful, expect the effort to be expanded throughout the state.