District Court Judge Ignores Law, OK's Virginia Gun Ban

January 17, 2020


Matthew Hoy

*UPDATE* The Virginia Supreme Court refused to reverse the lawless ruling by Judge Joi Taylor, saying that there was not enough of a legal record—including a transcript of the district court hearing—to come to a determination of whether or not the district court had erred.

While that means that the state Capitol grounds will be a gun-free zone on Monday. It is unclear whether the legal wrangling will continue to prevent similar lawless action by Democrats in years to come.

Virginia Circuit Court Judge Joi Taylor yesterday upheld Gov. Ralph "Blackface" Northam's executive order banning the legal carry of firearms on capitol grounds starting tonight at 5 p.m and continuing through Monday despite black-letter law prohibiting such an action.

Despite the fact that Va. Code § 44.146.15(3) expressly prohibits the banning of the legal carry of firearms except where needed for public safety in emergency shelters, Judge Taylor wrote "the Court FINDS that the Governor is granted sufficient deference within and has sufficient authority outside of the Commonwealth of Virginia Emergency Services and Disaster Law of 2000 by which he could enact Executive Order Forty-Nine."

This, of course, makes the actual Va. Code § 44.146.15(3) a dead letter.

Taylor also quotes the seminal case Heller v. District of Columbia, and, like many of her fellow progressive judges reads it to allow whatever limitations on the 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms that the government may seek—the exact opposite of the freedom that Heller recognized and sought to provide for Americans.

Virginia Citizens Defense League Files Appeal

Late yesterday, the Virigina Citizens Defense League and the Gun Owners of America filed their appeal of Taylor's decision.

In their filing the plaintiffs' quote Va. Code § 44.146.15(3) which expressly prohibits what Gov. Northam has just done and write:

In a twist of fate, in February of 2012, Gov. Northam and Attorney General (Mark) Herring, then state senators, both voted in favor of H.B. 20, the current version of the statute they now seek to subvert. Even more significant, H.B. 20 added language specifically protecting the "carrying" of firearms, the exact activity the Governor now seeks to suppress. See Exhibit C to the Complaint and Application.

The plain and unambiguous language of Va. Code § 44.146.15(3) expressly prohibits the Governor from using a declaration of a state of emergency to do precisely what he purports to do via Paragraph C of the EO, banning firearms on Capitol Square during Lobby Day.

Finally, the plaintiffs' address Judge Taylor's appeal to the Supreme Court's Heller ruling to justify upholding the governor's lawless executive order.

Finally, the Court cherry picks statements from the Supreme Court's decision in Heller v. District of Columbia, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), as f that case has some relevance here. The Court recites language about "longstanding prohibitions" and "laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places."2 Of course, this case does not involve whether a legitimately enacted legislative ban on firearms at Capitol Square passes Second Amendment muster. The issue here is whether the Governor has any authority to ban firearms in the way he has done. Recitation of the platitude that "individuals have limited right [sic] to bear arms" does not mean the Governor has acted within his power in this case.

2 Of course, we are not dealing with a "longstanding prohibition" here, but one that has existed for barely 24 hours. Nor does this case involve a "law," but rather an executive branch policy. The Governor has no authority to create new substantive law, only to follow the law that exists and exercise any authority he is granted thereunder. Likewise, the two cases on which the lower court relies (Class and Bonidy) involve challenges to duly enacted legislative prohibitions, and are likewise inapplicable in deciding whether the Governor has exceeded his authority here.

Attorney General Herring has responded with his brief which can be found here.

As of the time this article is published, a hearing has not yet been set.

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