AP Photo/Steve Helber
The leadership of the House and Senate Republicans in Virginia have authored a letter to Governor Ralph Northam requesting a security briefing over the unspecified threats that the governor alluded to in his Wednesday press conference declaring a temporary state of emergency in Richmond and a ban on firearms in Capitol Square during next Monday’s Lobby Day activities.
The letter, which was transmitted to the governor’s office early Thursday afternoon, expresses doubt over the legality of the governor’s actions, but also requests more information about the nature of the threats the governor mentioned.
We respectfully write to you today regarding your Executive Order of Wednesday, January 15, 2020, declaring a State of Emergency on and around Capitol Square.
Chapter 44-146.15 of the Code of Virginia states that the Governor does not have the “authority to in any way limit the right of the people to keep and bear arms…except to the extent necessary to ensure public safety…in any place or facility used… as an emergency shelter or for the purpose of sheltering persons.”
Law enforcement officials have indicated they have identified “credible” threats against the events scheduled for Monday, January 20, and you have stated these as justification for your declaration. While the safety of those on Capitol Square is paramount, the restrictions you have enacted place significant burdens on the First and Second Amendment rights of Virginians.
We have concerns about your authority for declaring this emergency. We, as members of the General Assembly, have received none of the information you have referenced to justify these restrictions. As such, we request that your office conduct a secure briefing on the threats identified by the Virginia Fusion Center and the Unified Command for the leadership of the General Assembly at the earliest possible time.
The lawmakers go on to say they understand the need for operational security, and suggest that the leaders of both the Democrat and Republican caucuses be briefed on the nature of the threats without legislative staff present.
Considering the abridgment of the constitutional rights of Virginians your declaration has imposed, and because we have serious concerns about whether a governor has the authority to enact such restrictions, we believe it is imperative that leaders of the General Assembly – representing both majority and minority caucuses – are appropriately briefed as to the nature of these threats.
Time is of the essence, and we await your prompt response.
I hope House and Senate Republicans have more luck hearing from the governor than I’ve had with my invite to join me on Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co. (no, I still haven’t heard anything from Northam’s press secretary).
As for the threats, the closet thing I’ve seen to any specific threat is a story that New York Times is reporting; three individuals are facing federal firearms and immigration charges after being arrested in Maryland. Prosecutors say the trio they allegedly discussed driving to Richmond for Lobby Day “in anticipation of a possible race war.”
There will be no race war on Lobby Day. In fact, there’ll be Virginians of all races, creeds, and colors standing together for the human right of self-defense and the right of the People to keep and bear arms. Given the fact that Lobby Day is taking place on MLK Day, I suspect that more than a few of the speakers, myself included, will reference the importance of the right to keep and bear arms in the civil rights struggle. I will also be talking about the fact that young men of color are likely to be disproportionately impacted by Northam’s new gun control laws, which gun control advocates and anti-gun politicians seem intent on ignoring.
I know that some will try to use the Lobby Day as their own stage for their own pet causes, no matter how benign or malignant they might be. They are not what Lobby Day is about, and they will not be greeted warmly by the tens of thousands of Virginia gun owners who are taking time off of work, arranging childcare, and in some cases traveling hundreds of miles to lobby legislators to oppose Ralph Northam’s gun ban. In fact, as I’ve said before; if you’re planning on going to Richmond on Monday to do anything other than peacefully and powerfully join in support of the Second Amendment, stay home.