Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has issued an executive order that allows gun shops to remain open during the coronavirus shutdown. However, the order did not designate gun shops as essential or life-supporting businesses. It also imposed restrictions on the number of patrons who can be within the shop at the same time. According to the order, firearm shops “may continue to operate but must limit all in-person shopping to no more than 10 patrons per establishment.” The executive order also required the maintenance of safe social distance between patrons.
Although Ralph’s actions might be partially well-intentioned, he is also under the limitation of the Virginia Emergency and Disaster Laws § 44-146.15 Construction of chapter section 3 that prevents him from infringing on the Second Amendment rights of residents during emergencies. The failure by the governor to designate gun shops as essential businesses shows that Gov. Northam’s provision to keep the gun shops open was a result of compulsion by the Virginia emergency laws, rather than an act of altruism.
Virginia became a center of attention on gun laws during the past firearm legislation session, where a flurry of Northam-supported gun laws was passed against the mass protest by Virginian residents. Gov. Northam had declared a state of emergency and a temporary ban on weapons on the Capitol grounds during the Lobby day gun rally that attracted over 22,000 protestors. It is highly likely that, given an opportunity, Gov. Northam would issue a similar ban during the coronavirus epidemic. However, thanks to the constitutional provision, the governor is unable to impose unconstitutional firearm restriction orders.
Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is pushing universal background checks in our state, and if left unchecked, it will not be long until we see bills like this getting traction in Austin. Texas is embarrassingly ranked 29th for gun rights, and with the help of the political elites in Austin, we will surely rank among New York, California, and Illinois if left to their own devices. Please join our fight today, and help us restore Texas' place as the standard for the U.S.
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