Virginia Lawmakers Want To Make State Capitol A "Gun Free Zone"

While Ralph Northam’s proposed ban on semi-automatic rifles, shotguns, and some pistols is getting a lot of attention from Virginia gun owners, that’s not the only gun ban Democrats will be considering when they convene the 2020 legislative session in a couple of weeks. The incoming House Speaker, Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, tells the Virginia Mercury that Democrats are also weighing a gun ban in Richmond’s Capitol Square.

“That’s definitely something that we have discussed amongst us,” Filler-Corn said in an interview. “But we’re not willing to say what direction we’re going in.”

A no-guns rule could be significant for the crowds expected to fill the Capitol as Democrats take up numerous gun-control proposals, including universal background checks, an assault weapons ban and a red flag law. In an email to its members this week, the pro-gun Virginia Citizens Defense League said several militia groups from Virginia and nearby states had “graciously volunteered to provide security.”

Filler-Corn may not be willing to say what direction Democrats are going in, but that’s only because she doesn’t want another premature storm of controversy like the one we saw when Democrat Congressman Don McEachin demanded the governor call out the National Guard to enforce the state’s impending gun control laws. I suspect Virginia Democrats will indeed change the rules and make the public space a gun-free zone before Lobby Day takes place on January 20th, but are hoping to stave off the controversy that will ensue until the deed is actually done.

Virginia Democrats will claim the move is all about public safety, but in actuality its about their distrust of the people of Virginia. For years, Republicans in control of the state legislature allowed firearms on the capitol grounds without incident, but to anti-gun lawmakers, every Virginian exercising their right to keep and bear arms is a potential threat.

Though guns are banned in most state government buildings, Republican General Assembly leaders have allowed guns to be carried in the Capitol building and on the grounds of Capitol Square. Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria, has introduced a bill to ban guns and other weapons on Capitol Square. But because most legislation doesn’t go into effect until July 1, his proposed ban wouldn’t apply to the upcoming session even if it was passed and signed swiftly by the governor.

In an interview last month, Ebbin suggested an immediate ban could be enacted through the General Assembly’s rules.

Once again, Virginia Democrats are making it clear that their number one priority is going after the rights of law-abiding Virginians instead of taking on those actually responsible for violent crime in the state. This won’t make anyone any safer, but it will make the state a little less free.