Virginia Court Ruled Indoor Gun Ranges Can Re-Open
A Virginia court ruled on Monday that Governor Northam’s decree that indoor gun ranges were “nonessential” exceeded his powers under the Virginia Constitution. The state will likely appeal the decision, but for now, indoor gun ranges can re-open.
The case was brought by plaintiffs Lynchburg Range and Training, aka Safeside Tactical, Virginia Citizen’s Defense League, Gun Owners of America, and the Association of Virginia Gun Ranges.
Gov Northam issued his shutdown order #53 on March 23. In it he used Virginia code 44-146 as the basis of his order. Judge F. Patrick Yeatts states that the code specifically forbids the Governor from using his powers to deny the right to keep and bear arms.
The judge’s ruling stated in part:
“Containing almost every word of the Second Amendment of the States Constitution, Virginia’s version provides that a “That a well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state, therefore, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” The operative clause provides the right to keep and bear arms and the prefatory clause provides that the purpose of the right is to have a population trained with firearms in order to defend the Commonwealth.”
The Judge then stated that an indoor range is a place where people can be trained in the use of firearms, and is a place where the “lawful use” of firearms is part of the right to keep and bear arms.
Though the governor stated that the law is on his side in the case of an emergency, and that self defense isn’t an argument during the COVID-19 pandemic. Judge Yeatts did not agree. He stated that both statutory and Constituional arguments were given that prevented the governor from infringing on the Virginians’ right to keep and bear arms. Of course we all know he tried it anyway.
Governor Northam lost this round. The expiration date is only two weeks away, so it is unclear what course the state of Virginia will take. But for now, an indoor gun range is not a place of “entertainment,” but a place where Virginians are “trained to arms.”
Featured photo: Screenshot of Safeside Tactical