by James A. Bacon

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.

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17 responses to “Cool Your Jets, Dudes”

  1. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    Jim. Ever been at a riot with firearms that got put of hand? Several hundred dead? I have. The state needs to learn from charlottesville and take a much tougher approach

    1. Ironically, none of the bloodshed in Charlottesville was caused by guns.

      If we are going to “learn from Charlottesville,” we need to ban cars, sticks, clubs, and fists.

    2. Peter Galuszka Avatar
      Peter Galuszka

      I have no idea about drones but at the two ku klux klan rallies i have covered some simple procedures are:
      (1) no guns, knives helmets or masks
      (2) clear corrals for pros and cons with metal detectors
      (3) quick police response to ANY altercation.

  2. Let’s play this out. Let’s say extremist militia group XYZ seriously intends to “storm the capitol.” Is that militia group likely to abide by the governor’s restriction on guns?

    Let’s say extremist militia group ABC decides to carry out a drone attack… Who is it going to attack — the gun rights crowd? The police? And how does a restriction on guns stop a drone attack?

    Just asking questions…. Just trying to understand the logic here.

    1. Steve Haner Avatar
      Steve Haner

      Logic tells me to stay home and monitor, if needed. Apparently the main floor sessions will occur at noon, but if committees seek to meet and do real business, people who normally would want to be there…..won’t. Maybe afternoon will clear out….The advocates have made their point.

  3. LarrytheG Avatar

    Not sure what anyone would have Northam do or not given Charlottesville. It’s pretty clear that a bunch of folks are coming and likely carrying weapons and have been rowdy at “pre” gatherings. Yes, I know 99% are “just” law abiding citizens – “good guys with guns” but if Northam did nothing and bad stuff happened, he’d be excoriated including here in BR AND by the same folks who are talking about “rights”.

    re: Red Flag and Constitutional Rights/due process and all that.

    Right now, a Judge can actually take your “rights” if you have expressed threats to others – often in domestic spouse situations. “Protective orders, they’re called and the “due process” is basically a judge deciding you ARE a threat and issuing the order. In fact, if someone actually did threaten someone with a gun – I suspect there would be consequences right now. I don’t know how many protective orders are issues but I’m betting it’s a fairly large number. If someone is making threats and has a gun – we already know the potential outcome.

    “Voters strongly support requiring background checks on all gun sales, 86% to 13%, and passing a ‘red flag’ law to remove guns from someone who may harm someone, 73% to 23%, ” I don’t think Northam is going to fear the 23% in terms of votes – maybe in terms of threatened violence.

    What Falwell is doing is very close to fomenting violence, plain and simple, and he is not alone – and he represents the Evangelical folks who apparently are with him.

    Local Sheriffs may change their tune when a spouse/boyfriend kills the partner and the law provided a way to stop them. At that point, they’d be subject to both criminal and civil lawsuits. I predict that one Sheriff getting sued in a Civil suit is going to cause a re-think of that strategy. If you don’t carry out the law – and someone dies as a result – expect consequences.

  4. J. Abbate Avatar

    Charlottesville was a failure of police and law enforcement regulation. No one needed to die. If we have agreed to allow Nazis and Klu Klux Klan and white supremacists walk through our neighborhoods with loaded guns, clubs, Confederate and Nazi flags, chanting racist epithets, then we should have appropriate control and regulation. Evidently there have been direct threats to state legislators and threats of violence against a our democratically elected government, and the Governor has a duty to be intelligent and proactive about what could occur for the safety of the public and the government. If necessary, a larger show of law enforcement or the National Guard should be used, people brandishing weapons, threatening violence or actually shooting should be arrested and drones confiscated or downed if used in a threatening manner. This situation points up why we have laws for our safety and they should be enforced as needed.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      All this talk coming from the right on this is insane… irresponsible.
      There ARE crazies out there that are provoked, egged on by that kind of discourse and you can bet some of them will join the crowds if they can.

      Contrast Charlottesville with what happened in Boston:

      Roadblocks, weapons bans as Boston braces for ‘Free Speech’ rally

      BOSTON (Reuters) – Boston officials are planning road blockades and even banning food vendors from the historic Boston Common as they step up security around a “Free Speech” rally on Saturday featuring right-wing speakers, aiming to avoid a repeat of last weekend’s violence at a white supremacist rally in Virginia.

      Some 500 police officers will be on the streets around the popular tourist destination. They are planning to close some roadways to vehicles, mindful of the car attacks that killed a woman in Charlottesville and 13 in an attack in Barcelona on Thursday.

      “We all know the tragedy that happened in Barcelona. That only makes us more vigilant,” said Boston Police Commissioner William Evans, who was the department’s second-in-command during the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

      Saturday’s rally has drawn intense concern from city and state officials following the violence in Charlottesville, when white supremacists at a “Unite the Right” rally fought in the streets with anti-racism protesters. A woman was killed at that event when a man said to have neo-Nazi sympathies crashed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, injuring another 19 people.

  5. TooManyRegulations Avatar

    Well the fact of the matter is that there are so many laws and regulations, many vague in application, that we would all be guilty of some infraction just about any day (except for me, of course) unless the laws are enforced selectively and by interpretation of the regulators and law enforcement. Much of this is driven by local issues, even when the laws are enforced by (locally based) state regulators. Va ABC law is a particularly good example.

  6. johnrandolphofroanoke Avatar

    We all have supreme confidence in Col. Klink and the rest of the gang at Stalag 13. I just don’t see how Monday can turnout as anything less than disaster.

  7. AlongThePike Avatar

    Three arrested by the FBI in advance of Virginia Gun Rally:

  8. matthurt92 Avatar

    The vast majority of localities in Virginia within the past couple of months have passed some sort of 2nd Amendment/Constitutional sanctuary resolution, all due to the proposed gun control laws that are now on the table. Thousands of rally participants from Virginia are gearing up to show their support for their 2nd Amendment rights on Monday.

    While there are no doubt some serious threats from extremist nut jobs, and due diligence should be taken to address those concerns, the optics of the state of emergency are not good to law abiding Virginians who are afraid their Constitutionally guaranteed rights are about to be infringed.

    At some point, folks should realize that the the consent of the governed is a necessity in our government. Rule of law is a very precious commodity, and is easily squandered. It seems that once the Democrats gained control in Richmond they keep doubling down on authoritarian tactics to maintain it. I cannot see how this will end well.

  9. Press release from Sen. Bill DeSteph, R-Virginia Beach:

    “While I understand the need for safety, I believe these actions deliberately create an unwarranted level of fear and will prevent thousands of law-abiding Virginians from exercising their Constitutional rights as guaranteed by both the First and Second Amendments. These restrictions on weapons only serve to handicap law-abiding citizens, and will do nothing to make us safer.”

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      This is the logic of gun rights folks – even when we KNOW that wackadoodles are on their way to Richmond….. do we think that only the ones caught are the only ones? “gun restrictions” will “handicap law abiding citizens” – and that is ANYONE who now has a gun and has not yet had a run-in with the law.

      If we follow that logic, “law abiding” folks with guns are unlawfully not allowed in Courts, on airlines, in police stations, etc… don’t laugh… I’ve heard that also.

      We have a problem with reality. While it’s certainly true that the vast majority of gun owners are responsible and law abiding – it’s also certainly true that many, if not most of us, actually DO SUPPORT convicted felons of violent crimes to not be permitted to legally own guns. Is that a restriction on gun rights?

      Somewhere is the middle of this is some common sense. But these days it seems to evade many.

  10. matthurt92 Avatar

    Well, I guess those of us who are law abiding are likely to get mowed down by those wackadoodles who will not respect the wishes of the Governor. History has demonstrated wackadoodles are drawn to gun free zones to fulfill their wackadoodle plans to get back at those less worthy. Unfortunately, while there will be significant law enforcement presence, the Governor has not issued the law abiding individuals with our own personal state trooper to keep us safe from the wackadoodles.

    1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
      Reed Fawell 3rd

      I fear the wackadoodles might be out there in force, trying to start fights, temping you to engage. That’s what leftists do. If that happens in Richmond DON’T Engage. Ignore them, no matter what. If you do engage, you will lose. This is a political battle not a physical one. But the leftist will try to make it physical. They have a corrupt media waiting to pounce on you while that media hides from the public what leftist do. So Keep the Peace. Keep the Peace no matter what!

      Everyone who fights or breaks the peace is an enemy of your cause. Your strength here is your self discipline. Show it, by keeping the peace.

  11. DLunsford Avatar

    Really nothing unusual here. Aside from the crazies, be they home grown or pilot trainees from Saudi Arabia, most firearm folks I know are good level headed people who are well trained and safe. But how long do they expect these folks to put up with the left’s lawlessness? Particularly the sanctuary city/county fiascoes? Combine that with the spectacle this week of Granny Pelosi’s pen ceremony and the House’s walk of shame to the Senate. This is enough to squeeze anyone’s adrenals. This weekend is a good time to drive up to the cabin, light a fire and pour a good rye.

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