So, Governor Ralph Northam yesterday declared a state of emergency that bans the bearing of firearms on stat property from Jan. 17 through Jan. 21. In justification, he cited plans by tens of thousands of gun-rights advocates to gather in Richmond in protest of gun-control legislation under consideration by the General Assembly.
Stated Northam in a prepared statement: “Available information suggests that a substantial number of these demonstrators are expected to come from outside the Commonwealth, may be armed, and have as their purpose not peaceful assembly but violence, rioting, and insurrection.”
Rioting and insurrection? Really. Them’s strong words. The Washington Post has written of out-of-state groups coming to Virginia to form posses and militias, as well as reckless and unsubstantiated rumors spreading on social media. The newspaper also referred vaguely to “threats” made against Northam. According to Virginia Public Media, Northam has said officials have heard reports of “out-of-state militia groups and hate groups planning to travel from across the country to disrupt our democratic process with acts of violence.” He said they “are coming to intimidate and cause harm.”
Question: If specific hate groups have been identified, why aren’t they being targeted by law enforcement? Also, wouldn’t it be helpful to notify the public who they are? Why the need to deprive everyone, including law-abiding citizens, of the right to carry arms onto state property?
Update: According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Northam claimed that “armed militia groups” plan on “storming our Capitol” and “weaponizing drones.” That’s a lot more specific — and alarming — than the intelligence I cited in other media reports.
Meanwhile, Jerry Falwell Jr. president of Liberty University, needs to dial down his rhetoric. Speaking on a Lynchburg radio show, he predicted a backlash of local law enforcement authorities against gun-control legislation from the General Assembly, reports the News & Advance. Presumably referring to legislators, he said, “I think they’re going to be faced with civil disobedience, not just by citizens but by police officers. And I think it’s what they deserve.”
That sounds like an endorsement of civil disobedience.
In other polarizing remarks, newly elected Bedford County Sheriff Mike Miller has said his office would not enforce gun control measures that “prohibit the Second Amendment of Fourth Amendment rights of Bedford Count citizens. … I will not put officers’ lives in jeopardy to enforce gun control mandates that are being pushed by the governor’s office.” The “red flag” bill advancing through the General Assembly, designed to deny people ruled dangerous to themselves or others access to guns, “denies people due process to law,” he said. “I find it to not be constitutional. I’m not going to enforce any legislation that is not constitutional.”
I agree that the red flag law raises serious “due process” issues. However, last time I checked, the job of sheriffs and police was to enforce the law, not determine the law. Judges, appeals courts, and ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court — not local sheriffs — decide what is constitutional. The power invested in the judiciary to make such determinations is laid out in… the Constitution.
Everybody needs to get a grip. Northam owes the public a stronger justification for his state-of-emergency order than what he has offered so far. And Falwell, a high-profile public figure in Virginia, should be standing up for the rule of law rather urging sheriffs to engage in civil disobedience.
Update: From the New York Times… “The F.B.I. has arrested three men suspected of being members of a neo-Nazi hate group, including a former reservist in the Canadian Army, who had weapons and discussed traveling to a pro-gun rally next week in Richmond, Va., in anticipation of a possible race war.”
OK, I’m on board with the state of emergency now.There are currently no comments highlighted.