On today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co. I speak with Phillip Van Cleave of the Virginia Citizens Defense League about the upcoming Lobby Day on January 20th, which looks to be a gathering of epic proportions in Virginia political history. Van Cleave says more than 100 buses have been chartered to bring Second Amendment supporters to the statehouse, including several from out of state.

Unfortunately, I have to tell you that at least some of our interview is already out of date, because shortly after Van Cleave and I spoke, in what appears to be a shameful exercise in cowardice and dishonesty, Virginia Democrats passed their first gun ban of 2020: a total ban on firearms at the state capitol and office buildings. And according to the Richmond-Times Dispatch, Governor Ralph Northam is likely going to extend the gun ban to the capitol grounds.

Asked whether Gov. Ralph Northam plans to issue an order restricting possession of firearms on Capitol grounds, spokeswoman Alena Yarmosky said in a statement: “The governor is reviewing options in coordination with law enforcement, legislator, and in light of incoming intelligence. His top priority is keeping Virginians safe.”

Democrats today apparently claimed that they were doing so at the request of the Capitol Police. Outside of the committee room where a joint committee of state senators and delegates were imposing the ban, however, the Capitol Police were telling the press and other lawmakers that they did not request that the state capitol be declared off limits to lawfully owned firearms.

Even worse,  Democrats apparently claimed that they were doing so at the request of the Capitol Police. Outside of the committee room where a joint committee of state senators and delegates were imposing the ban, however, the Capitol Police were telling the press and other lawmakers that they did not request that the state capitol be declared off limits to lawfully owned firearms.

Garren Shipley works for the House GOP Caucus, and was in the room as the vote took place. He says Republican lawmakers were unaware of the proposed gun ban until the meeting actually convened, and were given no advance notice by their Democrat counterparts now in the majority.

Now, it’s important to note that, despite the fact that the request did not originate with the Capitol Police, Col. Anthony Pike, who is in charge of the force, told Democrats on the committee that he could support the measure.

Republicans on the joint legislative committee, however, could not.

“Our focus here is to keep everybody safe,” said House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn. “These are policies and rules that should have passed a long, long time ago.”

Public officials have expressed concerns about planned Jan. 20 rallies that are set to draw huge crowds of pro-gun and gun-control advocates. Gun advocates from around Virginia and even out of state have pledged to turn out in force to highlight their resistance to proposed gun-control measures.

Republicans have voiced opposition to banning guns at the Capitol and some GOP lawmakers routinely carry guns while at the legislature. “I feel this egregious, I think it’s an overreach.” said Del. Terry Austin.

Shortly after the hearing concluded, the Republican caucus issued the following statement:

With less than 24 hours notice, House and Senate Democrats today overturned more than a decade of policy and voted to ban all firearms from the Capitol and office buildings. This measure includes the general public, concealed carry permit holders, and General Assembly members. Law abiding citizens with valid concealed handgun permits have always been allowed to bring their lawful firearms into these facilities.

Not only did the vote take place with little notice and no public distribution of the policy ahead of time, it was done in a meeting that was not broadcast to the public like other committee meetings. House Democrats expressly stated that the policy was adopted at the request of the Capitol Police, which appears to be categorically untrue.

Republican Leader Todd Gilbert issued the following statement: “Democrats have long made it clear they wanted to ban firearms in the Capitol and legislative office buildings. That’s not surprising. But for Democrats to intentionally misrepresent that they were introducing the policy at the request of Capitol Police is disgusting and wrong.

“Democrats hold majorities in both chambers and can pass whatever policy they wish. However, today’s action will ensure this policy takes effect without a vote from the vast majority of legislators. Democrats want to ban guns, but not enough to stand up and take responsibility for their own policy.

“Furthermore, hiding behind the honor of our Capitol Police is cowardly. Through their underhanded maneuvers Democrats have already made it clear that they’ll do whatever it takes to implement their agenda, including making major policy changes with no notice and little debate.“

This is such a dumb thing for Democrats to do. There’ve been virtually no problems at the state capitol involving legal gun owners lawfully carrying, but yet the first thing Democrats do when they gain power is to declare the statehouse a gun-free zone. It’s a political move designed to please their base and annoy gun owners, and I suspect it will work in both respects.