VCDL lobby day virginia
Previous VCDL Lobby Day (courtesy VCDL)
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UPDATE: Circuit Court Judge Joi Taylor has denied the VCDL’s request for an injunction to block Governor Northam’s emergency gun ban declaration. Judge Taylor based her denial on the Heller decision’s ruling that gun rights are not unlimited and that prohibitions of firearms in “sensitive places such as schools or government buildings” is reasonable.


By Jeff Hulbert

With the massive gun rights demonstration just days away at the Virginia Capitol, there is chance that the “emergency” ban on firearms on the statehouse grounds announced by Governor Ralph Northam yesterday can be reversed.

The foundation for a reversal appears strong, based on current state law. The question is now about logistics, a ticking clock, and the courage of the judiciary.

Courtesy Twitter

At the center of the controversy is the “Declaration of Emergency” Executive Order issued by Northam that is intended to disarm citizens gathering on the statehouse grounds this coming Monday for the Virginia Citizens Defense League’s annual Lobby Day event.

For almost two decades now, the state’s most prominent gun rights group, the VCDL, has coordinated citizen lobby visits on the third Monday in January, as well as staged a rally with prominent guest speakers on the capitol gounds that day.

VCDL Lobby Day
VCDL Lobby Day (courtesy VCDL)

In the past, the gatherings have drawn about a thousand people, many of them openly carrying sidearms, as well as a few carrying rifles.

With an onslaught of new, restrictive gun control proposals being pushed by the newly-seated Democrat majority in Richmond, this year’s Lobby Day event is expected to draw tens of thousands of citizens from across the the Old Dominion and surrounding states.

Citing “threat” potentials from militia groups and other “outside agitators,” the Governor’s executive order bans all firearms on the Capitol Square area (below in blue) through Tuesday. The ban also covers other items including helmets and shields.

The basis of the VCDL challenge to the ban is embedded in a state statute called the “Virginia Emergency Services and Disaster Law of 2000”.

Thanks to intense lobbying by the VCDL, language preventing a firearms ban in times of emergency was added to the statute in 2006. That action was spurred by the instances of illegal firearms confiscations in New Orleans in 2005 following Hurricane Katrina.

The Virginia Disaster Law stipulates that Second Amendment rights and lawful firearms possession of citizens shall not be abrogated during any “Declaration of Emergency” by the governor.

As you can see, the one exception for a governor to ban firearms is to secure “designated shelters” set up to aid citizens impacted by a disaster. The foundation for an injunction against Governor Northam’s order banning firearms will include these arguments:

  • Open Carry of firearms in Virginia on Capitol grounds is legal
  • Concealed Carry of firearms in Virginia is legal on the Capitol Grounds for those with Virginia carry permits and for those with permits the Commonwealth recognizes as reciprocal.
  • Citizens exercising their First and Second Amendment rights at a demonstration on Capitol grounds—however large— does not constitute an emergency.
  • The Capitol Grounds do NOT meet the definition of a “emergency shelter” or “for the purpose of sheltering persons”.

It is this last issue—the issue of “sheltering persons”—that the governor’s lawyers are likely to frame as the controlling basis for the “Declaration of Emergency” to clear the grounds of armed citizens.

It will be up to the VCDL’s legal talent to make the case that the Virginia statute’s language on “sheltering” cannot reasonably be stretched to include the 14.1 acres that make up the Capitol grounds.

To contort those “5.7 hectares” of rolling grassland and walkways into a “shelter”— the VCDL will likely argue—makes a mockery of the intent of the law and the limits on “emergency declarations” that are the very basis for the statute’s existence.

John Michel, a Maryland attorney and an active member of the Patriot Picket demonstration group, offered his analysis on the expected injunction, saying it will come down to the plain meaning of one word.

“It certainly appears Governor Northam has overstepped his statutory authority based on the plain and unambiguous language of the Virginia Emergency Services and Disaster Law of 2000. The statute itself makes clear the Governor is not empowered in any way to limit or prohibit the rights of the people to keep and bear arms, including the otherwise lawful possession, carrying, or transportation of firearms, except to the extent necessary to ensure public safety in any place or facility designated or used by the Governor for the purpose of sheltering persons. The key here is that the Governor’s authority only extends to designated “shelters” or “sheltering.”

The term “shelter” isn’t defined within the statute. Hence, one needs to look at the plain and ordinary meaning of the term. Shelter is a general term, but nearly all definitions include a roof or basic building to house and protect persons from the elements, and perhaps where food and aid can be dispensed. Unless the Governor intends to erect roofs and walls, and provide heat and food, it is impossible to accurately characterize the acreage surrounding the Capitol buildings as a designated emergency shelter.”

Setting aside his lawyer’s hat, Michel—speaking as a long-time gun rights advocate—says he is suspicious that Governor Northam’s “emergency” is an effort to sabotage the VCDL gathering and to clear space for Bloomberg-funded anti-gun groups.

“Even to the extent “sheltering” is treated as a verb, it appears the Governor’s Executive Order serves only to provide his favored constituents with front row “safe space” seats in the public square by excluding persons exercising otherwise entirely lawful activities.”

Michel is optimistic that a VCDL injunction to overturn the Capitol grounds gun ban can get before a judge and be decided quickly.

“Is political sheltering what the legislature contemplated when it enacted the law? Certainly not. Would this sheltering argument hold up if interested persons seek emergency injunctive relief to void the firearms prohibition as an impermissible or unnecessary over-reach by the Governor? I hope we find out, and there certainly is time to file and have the issue heard and decided by a court on an emergency basis.

“First, the legislature’s joint rules committee prohibited law-abiding citizens the right to carry within the Capitol Building. Now the Governor is attempting to prohibit the right to carry on the Capitol grounds. The next move is clear; both will be trying to remove firearms from the State altogether.”

Northam’s “Emergency Declaration” is slated to go into effect from tomorrow, Friday, and continue through next Tuesday, the day following the VCDL event.

Below are stacks of fencing that the Northam administration has brought in to encircle the State Capitol.

Attendees will apparently be forced to enter the Capitol grounds through a single entrance, a move that would appear to further inhibit the VCDL-sponsored gathering.

There have also been suggestions that Governor Northam timed his order to minimize the opportunity for the VCDL to challenge it in court before this weekend.

Overturninging the Governor’s “emergency declaration” will require a degree of judicial courage. Whether the VCDL will be able to make its case before a judge with that degree of fortitude remains to be seen.


Jeff Hulbert is the founder of Patriot Picket.

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  1. This has moved fast….INJUNCTION GRANTED to the 36 page GOA/VCDL filing.

    Northam is not done. Sources say the Governor will now ask for an expedited review at the Virginia Supreme Court.

  2. The problem with the court thing is that Friday and Monday are holidays is Virginia which makes court challenges harder.

  3. Great legal analysis and reporting of the facts.

    Northam brought the hubbub on himself by attacking tools that criminals sometimes use, rather than doing the harder work of actually doing anything to reduce the reasons why a person might use a gun to harm others.

  4. Eh, he already got what he wanted. A bunch of people (including half of you all, based on that other thread) leapt at the chance to have an excuse to not show up because “outside agitators”. I suppose people were figuring they wouldn’t get challenged or something.

    And now the racist from Elkton is arrested, so everybody gets painted with the Klan brush, despite the pictures featuring the man in the robe being waved around by our side.

    Great. Good job, everyone.

    • Thanks for helping with that horribly negative, condescending attitude and outlook. You’re the real VIP! See, I can help too.

    • You forgot the worst part: After all that “we will not comply”, the VCDL cucked out completely and urged compliance. Showing themselves as fairweather patriots sunk the chance of me donating to them.

  5. Sounds like it’s time to enlist Juan Guaido. He knows how to get around fences erected by fascists.

    Part of me would like to see the courts side with the government, then see tens of thousands of peaceful citizens disassemble said fences while the police stand by and do nothing.

    It’s probably safe to say that many of us are sick of the elected thinking that they only serve one segment of the population, and anything they say and do, lawful or not, is acceptable, and holds no consequences. It’s all of our money that gets wasted on fencing, legal fees, etc., and they don’t feel any pain when the courts meekly slap their hand. Nowhere near enough for them to realize there are limits.

    Then again, if people would actually get out and vote at better than 50%, we might have a better chance of not electing morons like this.

    • Stop supporting socialism. Without socialism the politicians can’t do anything to you because they have no money to buy enforcers.

  6. Hold the phone. An order granting Temporary Injunction distributed online, now other sources saying no.

    Photo copy sent to me is thought to be fake.

    Standby as this is sorted out.

  7. Even if VCDL is unable to get this state of emergency reversed , it sounds to me like it is not valid , thus anyone , everyone planning on attending should do so armed . I would think if the threats gov blackface is saying are real , than law abiding Virginians need to be able to defend themselves. I hope the court sees thru the bullshit and favors VCDL .

  8. Bunch of hot-heads showing up with firearms. What could go wrong?

    My prediction some “live free or die” nut will start shooting.

    • Well, history isn’t on your side. but I suppose anythings possible.

      …meteor could strike the location too i suppose.

    • Thousands of armed people show up every year on lobby day…for over a decade.
      No shootings.
      Your violent paranoid fantasies are really rather infantile.

    • Historically the ones with the hot heads have been part of government, see Ruby Ridge or Kent State shootings. The citizens with weapons are the ones with cooler heads, see Battle of Athens and Bundy Ranch for a couple of examples of how things go when they remain armed in the face of government opposition.

      As Patrick Henry, a Founding Father, said himself, to his fellow Virginians in 1778:

      “Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are ruined…. The great object is that every man be armed. Everyone who is able might have a gun.”

      Perhaps Northam is all too well aware of that idea, perhaps he wants that jewel for himself.

  9. Confirming now that Judge Joi J. Taylor issued a 3-page decision REJECTING the Gun Owners of America and Virginia Citizens Defense League joint filing for an injunction against the Governor’s Gun Ban Emergency on the Capitol Grounds.

    Waiting for an indication that GOA/VCDL lawyers have filed an appeal. The rejection came with the court clerk’s office still open.

    • Rejected based on “…Judge Taylor based her denial on the Heller decision’s ruling that gun rights are not unlimited and that prohibitions of firearms in “sensitive places such as schools or government buildings” is reasonable…”

      The only part of the Heller decision that Leftist Activist Judges have read.

  10. No matter the outcome of a court fight, the Open Carry of firearms is legal outside the Capitol Square fence line for any citizens gathering on Richmond city streets adjoining the statehouse, without regard to whether you reside in Virginia or not.

    Conceal carry in Richmond is subject to having a Virginia permit or a permit from a state that Virginia honors.

    At least one contributor to TTAG has stated that the open carry of rifles at a demonstration in Virginia is unlawful. NOT TRUE.

    As long as you are not otherwise prohibited, open carry of a rifle is lawful—but with one crucial restriction. You may not carry more than 20 rounds in a magazine unless you possess a Virginia conceal carry permit or a CHP permit honored by Virginia.

    This is not legal advice though. It is your responsibility to know the laws of Virginia if you are attending the Lobby Day on Monday.

    • You can’t do that because they created a department to enforce their rules and kill you when you resist.

      • Regardless of the formation of said department, violating the rights of citizens under color of law is a felony, and citizens can arrest the perpetrators of felonies that occur in their presence.
        And Northam is guilty of depravation of rights under color of office, as he is issuing orders as a political figure, attempting to use his office, and it’s authority, to enact laws and regulations that clearly violate the rights of the citizens of VA, those who visit VA, and those who are traveling through VA.

        • Every politician is breaking their oath and enforcing unconstitutional rules. Even the president.

        • Would be great if enough real citizens could flood the capital and pack the area to demonstrate this communist take over of Virginia. Need enough citizens to do what the protestors did in Egypt.

  11. Do judges even read the law? Or do they make rulings based off of feelings? I know, it’s a rhetorical question. Her ruling and wording does not match the wording of the law. This is another reason why we will not be able to rely on the judicial system to save our rights. They continually make rulings against our rights, and make up reasons that are not within the law to do it.

        • Watch the video I linked above. It’s lawful in Virginia and it’s constitutional according to the Supreme Court.

          The judge denied them.

          • Judges used to deny marriage certificates to interracial couples.
            Just because the judge says something is ‘legal’ doesn’t mean the judge is correct.
            Laws that violate the Constitution are invalid.

      • What the governor of VA is doing is demonstrably ILLEGAL according to the U.S. Constitution. Any law in contradiction to the U.S. Constitution is null and void.
        The Constitution plainly says “Shall not be infringed”. That’s not unclear. ALL gun laws are illegal, even the ones you agree with. Period. Judges who disagree are simply wrong and should be removed from office.

  12. The balancing issue of alleged “actionable intelligence” regarding threats on Monday versus the exercise of an enumerated right comes down to, as Judge Taylor put it, “deference to the professional judgement of those tasked with making complex, subtle and professional decisions.”

    And Judge Taylor declared she was swayed by the Heller vs. D.C. “sensitive places” language, saying that citizens have a “limited right” to bear arms.

    According to my legal source, there is time to take an appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court.

    • The “conservative” court gave the government such board powers with those two 2nd Amendment cases.

        • Shut your dumb mouth, boomer.

          The statists always use those two court cases to pass gun control. The red shirts have been using it as an argument. The “conservative” court judges gifted them that. The opinion clearly states it’s okay for gun control for the sake of the government and public safety because that is more important than your individual right.

          I told people right after the case was finished (many years ago) this is exactly what was going to happen. Yet all the dummies thought it was a victory for the 2nd Amendment. It was actually a loss. Since then the court refuses other cases.

          Go watch the American Joe Show and continue to be dumb down.

    • “as Judge Taylor put it, ‘deference to the professional judgement of those tasked with making complex, subtle and professional decisions.”

      The new legal standard across the land is that the citizens are too stupid to know what they are doing (whether with a vote, or opposition to an ordinance, plan, etc.), so deference must be given to the overlords. I’d say this thought process started around the last presidential election, as it’s been seen elsewhere as of recent.

      I don’t recall such blatant “you are stupid, we are smarter than you” court judgments in the distant past.

      • “I’d say this thought process started around the last presidential election, as it’s been seen elsewhere as of recent.”

        That thought process in the USA is at least as old as Woodrow Wilson, who believed the nation should be run by “the best and brightest,” AKA commies from Harvard and Columbia.

        • What is being said nowadays is that the electorate/masses are right now, too stupid to know what they are doing (except when they got elected of course) whereas if that is Wilson’s statement, there is hope for people to be the best and the brightest.

          Today the opposition simply doesn’t care about “best and brightest”. If you oppose them, you are a -phobic or -ist, regardless of education, background, or facts. There is no reasoning with the agenda. In the recent past both sides would at least generally politely listen to each other.

          Perhaps they said the same things under Wilson. Somehow I doubt it was to this level however, and to the extent that it is, across the Country.

  13. Right or wrong… there’s not a judge in this country who would sign off on this.

    Simple facts, public “servants” are by and large self interested cowards, and the risk of an incident, however small it may be, would spell the death of their career if it actually happened.

  14. As I have been saying over and over again guns are a threat to the power mad gun hating corrupt courts. 2A to them is good only for use as toilet paper.

  15. Hey, I got a great idea! Lets trust plutocrats and oligarchs to respect our rights. What could possibly go wrong?

  16. Why don’t they just go back and lobby their home counties to accept the offer made by West Virginia yesterday?

      • Why not? At this point “lawful” simply means one wide can bring greater force to bear than the other. If there’s no consistency and the courts can’t even apply basic logic and consistency then the only legitimacy held by “law” is the legitimacy of force. In other words, might makes right

      • You, sir are completely ignorant of history. Where do you think West Virginia came from in the first place? Get your troll butt over to Google and remedy your ignorance.

    • VA would have to agree to it as well. Those counties would have to be a pretty big hassle for the VA to let them go.

  17. There are only two ways to win. Option 1, no violence at all from either side. This includes arrests. If armed Patriots are arrested without putting up a fight it shows the gun are worthless.
    Option two is winning a full blown boogaloo. This shows we have the guns and are willing and able to use them.

    Tl;Dr the only thing worse than this going got is going hot and retreating.

    • If shots are fired, the government will come down hard on those involved. They will have no choice. And don’t expect support from the GOP, either. Escalation would be likely, and it would be blood and ugly. I don’t know, it may be destined to come to that. But I am hoping this stays peaceful.

  18. Yeah, so, government kourts are now a binky for Boomers, or something. I mean, really, in 2020 and you think a kourt is going to do anything for the rkaba.

    • You would have been happier if his decision was that you do not a constitutional right to own a firearm in your home?

      Let’s just wait and see what relief we get in a few months from the court as it exists *today*…

      • Would have been happy if he didn’t say the government can infringe on your individual rights for the sake of the collective and the government. He didn’t have to put that in his opinion. He did it on purpose.

  19. It is happening across the country in every state that is Democratically controlled. Less punishment for criminals and more laws to restrict us law abiding citizens with firearms. They will just rewrite the Virginia’s emergency powers to suit their needs in a week or so if a judge rejects this desperate act by the Virginia governor. Stay strong in Virginia all of the 2nd Amendment supporters. The other problem is they are hoping for no one to show up for the lobby day by doing this ahead of time. Just go to the lobby day and make your voice heard instead. Just pursue a court case against the Virginia governor later to address this over step of powers.

    One problem Virginia had during the election was in some districts for State representative and senate seat their were no Republicans running against Democrats so that was an easy win for the Democrats in the House and the Senate. There were 5,666,962 registered voters in Virginia with only 3,374,382 voting, which is about 59.5% according to the Registration/Turnout Reports. It leaves 2,295,580 Virginia voters not casting a vote. This would have changed things if more turnout to vote for our 2nd Amendment rights. The less people vote the more control they will have over us as 2nd Amendment supporters. They will just redistrict us from a majority voting district where they can. They can do this because in Virginia you have to declare your party for voting and information they collected for the elections by canvasing voting areas.

  20. Chief Censor says “What the governor did was completely lawful under Virginia law.”

    This is an immature view. In your world there would be no U.S. Supreme Court because all once laws are passed you would simplistically regard them as “lawful”.

    Outside your basement, the world is obviously more legally complex.

    Attorneys I have spoken to who have read Judge Taylor’s decision regard her as engaging in activism on behalf of a Democrat administration.

    Judge Taylor chose to ignore the plain language of the law that a Governor may take steps to respond to any “emergency” with resources and manpower, BUT MAY NOT INFRINGE ON VIRGINIANS 2nd AMENDMENT RIGHTS while doing so.

    She failed to do her job. In the view of people who revere the law, she’s just a hack.

  21. So, we’ll watch and see what all the tough-talking keyboard warriors will do as they come up against metal detectors and searches at the single point of entrance….will they leave? Will they start shooting?

  22. In the view of one lawyer with years of experience with the language of government permissions and limitations, Judge Taylor decided to support the governor and cobbled together something to fit the decision.

    In other words, hoping for that call up by Northam to sit on an appellate bench. Sad.

  23. Just remember in Virginia the governor can only be elected for one term only, which is a good thing. Just means the Lt. Governor can run for the seat after him.

  24. Vlad Tapas says “So, we’ll watch and see what all the tough-talking keyboard warriors will do as they come up against metal detectors and searches at the single point of entrance….will they leave? Will they start shooting?”

    Hahaha, so sorry to break in, but yes, I would to like super-size my order with Biggie Fries….thanks!

  25. Federal law (including Heller) was never going to be applied fruitfully here. The only question is how Virginia law and its Constitution apply… or can be ignored.

  26. I don’t think a bunch of people toten gunms is a good idea in the first place ,especially when eveyone is all pissed off and mad about it anyway. If a person would want to attract attention cow heads on long sticks would be better, I think. I was going to recommend human heads but you might get in trouble for that. Just don’t bring agunm.,

    • That is the only what it’s going to change! I don’t know why people keep thinking that if we bow down and keep Following unlawful laws that things are going to change and let’s be honest voting don’t make a damn bit of difference either

  27. You forgot to mention that Governor Blackface is only going to allow 10,000 people into the Restricted Zone at a time so if 30-50,000 show up most are going to be milling around downtown aimlessly.

    There is also zero chance that a Richmond judge would ever cross the Governor. Why do you think the Dems go out to Hawaii to get their pet judge there to issue injunctions against Trump?

    This should have been brought in one or more gun-friendly jurisdictions by people there who have bought tickets to go to the capital to exercise their rights. Too late now, of course.

  28. We are all soooo SOL if the Leftists ever take over our judicial system. If they ever secure a majority, then they will fast track any and all of the Lefts agenda. At that point, there won’t be any point in challenging anything in the courts.

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