Virginia’s House Minority Leader, Del. C. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) doesn’t want to get into specifics, but says that attorneys are looking at Gov. Ralph Northam’s new mask mandate and weighing the possibility of litigation over the measure, which is set to take effect on Friday.
On today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co, I had the chance to ask Gilbert about Northam’s mask mandate, the upcoming gun control laws that are set to take effect in the state on July 1st, and the recent local elections in the state that saw a stunning upset in the college town of Staunton, where every Democrat incumbent was sent packing in favor of more conservative and pro-Second Amendment candidates.
On the mask mandate, Gilbert says the governor made a mistake by trying to require masks be worn, rather than encouraging the practice. Gilbert also says it’s completely unclear at this point how Northam thinks his order will be enforced. During a press conference on Tuesday, the governor said that the state health department would enforce the measure, and denied that he wants to put people in jail over violations.
“This is about people’s health, it’s not about locking people up in jail and giving them large fines,” Northam said. “If we were to enforce this through law enforcement, the only authority we have at this time is through a Class 1 misdemeanor, which actually can carry jail time and a large fine. And that’s not what we’re trying to do here.”
Yet when the text of the governor’s order was posted online a few hours later, it turned out that’s exactly what the governor is trying to do.
The Virginia Department of Health shall have authority to enforce this Order. Any willful violation or refusal, failure, or neglect to comply with this Order, issued pursuant to § 32.1-13 of the Code of Virginia, is punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor pursuant to § 32.1-27 of the Code of Virginia. The State Health Commissioner may also seek injunctive relief in circuit court for violation of this Order, pursuant to § 32.1-27 of the Code of Virginia. No minor shall be subject to criminal penalty for failure to wear a face covering.
Northam either has no idea what he’s talking about or was incredibly duplicitous in his answer to reporters and the people of Virginia. The state health department may be the body that the governor’s tasked with enforcing his pointless mask mandate, but the punishment is still a criminal violation that carries a possible jail sentence and a large fine.
Gilbert says that he and other Republicans wanted to give Northam the benefit of the doubt in his early handling of the coronavirus, in part because of his background as a physician. However, the House Minority Leader continued, Northam has lost whatever moral authority he once possessed, especially after wandering around the state’s beaches over Memorial Day weekend posing for selfies and getting up close and personal with strangers while his mask was back in his car. The Republican leader adds that Northam’s mask mandate will only turn the issue into another political and culture war fight in the state, and he’s absolutely right.
Be sure to check out the entire interview with Del. Todd Gilbert in the video window above, and stick around for more news, including a self-defense shooting involving a concealed carry holder in Washington, D.C., a violent criminal let loose from jail over coronavirus concerns who’s now accused of vehicular homicide, and an Indiana barber in the right place at the right time to help save a customer’s life.