Last year, the anti-Second Amendment majority in the Virginia legislature that was purchased by gun-ban extremists passed a number of anti-gun measures. Anti-gun activists even demanded an opportunity to gloat over what they had bought.
Thanks to the efforts of NRA members and the grassroots lobbying of the pro-gun community, the crown jewel in the anti-gun legislative package—a ban on countless semi-automatic firearms, suppressors, and standard-capacity magazines—fell short.
This year, the anti-gun groups have a new demand; limiting carry options.
In a letter to Virginia lawmakers, four gun-ban organizations—Brady, The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Everytown for Gun Safety, and Giffords—demanded “a ban on open carry in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
To these organizations, any law-abiding Virginian who openly carries a firearm in compliance with the law is simply an “extremist” whose only goals are “intimidation and coercion.” They believe this in spite of the fact that Virginia—from the time the Spanish first reached the region in the 1500s, to the founding of Jamestown in 1607, to the establishment of Virginia as a crown colony of England in 1624, to Virginia’s declaration as a free and independent state on May 15, 1776, to the Declaration of Independence, all the way to today—has never prohibited open carry, and never had a problem with it; with the possible exception of anti-gun activists being upset at the sight of guns.
Even Everytown President John Feinblatt implies that banning open carry everywhere is likely unconstitutional, in the same editorial where he lays the groundwork to do just that. He mentions commentary by the late Justice Antonin Scalia, in the landmark District of Columbia v. Heller case, quoting Scalia as having written, “nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on…laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings.”
While that passage isn’t even part of the Court’s ruling, the fact that Feinblatt mentions it means he, at least, thinks it is important. But what it implies is that the Court may allow certain restrictions on carrying firearms in certain “sensitive places such as…government buildings.” What it does not even remotely imply is that there is justification for banning the carrying of firearms everywhere, even if “just” openly, as Feinblatt’s organization now wants for all of Virginia.
Whether or not this call for a ban on open carry in Virginia will gain any traction remains to be seen. On January 18, anti-gun activists, including a representative for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, held a virtual meeting with Virginia elected officials.
Of course, if the anti-gun organizations were really just concerned about the lawful open carry of firearms in government settings, as Feinblatt seemed to be claiming, then everything being discussed regarding Virginia is really pointless. Last year, as part of the anti-gun legislative package that was passed in Richmond, Virginia’s preemption law was partially gutted. Previously, Virginia did not allow local governments to enact regulations on firearms that are more restrictive than what comes out of Richmond. Now, however, cities and counties have the ability to prohibit firearms where government business takes place.
The Virginia legislative process can move very rapidly, so be sure to watch for updates on how the Second Amendment may be impacted in Richmond.