Virginia’s attorney general is claiming a legal victory on Thursday after a judge denied the organizers of a massive gun show permission to flout COVID-19 restrictions by having some 25,000 people attend the indoors event.
‘I have successfully BLOCKED a massive gun show from operating at full capacity this weekend in NOVA,’ Attorney General Mark Herring, a Democrat, tweeted on Thursday.
‘Putting hundreds or even thousands of Virginians at risk for the sole purpose of selling guns is just not worth it and I’m pleased that the Judge agreed with me.’
Judge Brett Kassabian handed down his ruling on Thursday, effectively shutting down the Nation’s Gun Show, a long-awaited event that was scheduled to take place this Friday at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly.
The organizers of the Nation’s Gun Show in Chantilly, Virginia, canceled their event planned for this weekend after a judge denied their request to exceed state limits on attendance put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The annual gun show is seen above in 2015
Organizers expected some 25,000 people to show up at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly this weekend
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, a Democrat, said that the planned gun show had ‘the potential to become a superspreader event’
On Thursday, Herring declared victory after a judge ruled in the state’s favor
The organizers of the gun show canceled the event after the state government limited capacity at the venue to 250 people, according to WTOP-TV.
Planners had intended to draw up to 25,000 people for the event. They went to court arguing that the state’s restrictions were an infringement on their Second Amendment rights that allow Americans to bear arms.
‘The show takes months to put together and it is too late a notice for most of these businesses to recoup their losses,’ wrote the organizers of a GoFundMe crowdfunding effort aimed at helping the organizers’ legal battle.
‘[The COVID-19 restrictions] will cause irreparable damage to all involved from the building, auxiliary businesses, the exhibitors, the promoter, the hotel, convenience stores, restaurants, and the many stores in the strip mall.
‘Exhibitors have significant investments in inventory, as do restaurants and convenience stores, much of which cannot be recouped.
‘We have already had two shows canceled by Executive Orders.’
The organizers said that they had taken precautions to mitigate the risk of the spread of COVID-19.
They said they’ve gone ‘above and beyond the state required COVID-19 safety measures.’
The organizers had argued in court that the gun show, which was scheduled to run all weekend, should be looked upon no differently than the ‘Walmart next door’ to the expo center, which is allowed to remain open during the pandemic.
But state officials argued that the expo center is not a brick-and-mortar retail store but an ‘entertainment venue’, a separate category of business that is much more limited in terms of how many people are allowed inside.
Herring said the gun show ‘would most certainly become a superspreader event and could infect hundreds if not thousands of Virginians with COVID.’
‘The ongoing pandemic has infected more than 200,000 Virginians since March and has killed nearly 4,000 – more than four times the number of automobile fatalities that occurred in all of 2019,’ Herring said in legal documents filed in court.
Virginia has reimposed measures to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus as state officials reported a spike in the number of cases
Nearly 3,900 Virginians have died of the virus that causes COVID-19, according to public health officials
State officials have also reported a sharp increase in the number of hospitalizations
The gun show organizers said ‘the Governor and the Virginia Attorney General stepped in to close all the similar venues in the state of Virginia as well as ours inflicting incredible hardships in the entire state.
‘We fought back and went to court at great expense and lost,’ they said.
‘We respectfully disagree with the judge’s opinion.’
‘We will follow up with more later. We are very sorry for the incredible financial burden and terrible inconvenience this is inflicting on all involved.’
The gun show organizers said they lost out on at least $70,000 in revenue as a result of the cancellation.
‘In recent months, the demand for firearms, ammunition, and related products and services has skyrocketed, fueled by intersecting scares over COVID-19 and interruptions in government-related services including policing, fears of demonstrations, rioting and social unrest purportedly in response to various police shootings, and a general sense of apprehension about the November 2020 presidential election and the future for gun rights in this country,’ the show’s lawyers wrote in their complaint.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (above) urged residents of his state to stay home for the Thanksgiving holiday
Governor Ralph Northam on Wednesday urged Virginians to stay home for the Thanksgiving holiday, saying it would be ‘an act of love’ to help keep people safe amid steadily rising coronavirus cases.
If people must get together, Northam said, they should keep gatherings small and celebrate outside.
‘Let’s not make this winter any worse than it has to be,’ Northam, the nation’s only governor who is also a doctor, said at a news conference.
The Democratic governor’s comments come a few days after he announced substantial new statewide restrictions on gatherings and certain businesses in an effort to slow rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
The state’s cap on gatherings will be reduced from 250 people to 25, the mask requirement will be applied to younger children, the number of spectators allowed at athletic events will be reduced, and alcohol sales will be prohibited at dining and drinking establishments after 10pm.
The changes come as the coronavirus is surging across the United States at what experts say is an alarming pace.
Newly confirmed infections per day in the US are shattering records at nearly every turn.
In Virginia, case counts have been increasing with particular intensity in the state’s southwest, where cases were sparse early in the pandemic.
Some of the state’s largest school systems – Virginia Beach, Henrico County and Fairfax County – have hit the brakes on reopening plans.
Collectively, Virginia is faring better than many other states, with one of the country’s lowest per capita rates of new daily cases.
As of Thursday, Virginia has reported more than 210,000 coronavirus cases and a death toll of nearly 3,900.
Northam also announced he had signed a revised state budget that imposes moratoriums on evictions through the end of the year and puts new limits on evictions starting next year.
A moratorium on utility disconnections also has been extended and requires Dominion Energy – the state’s largest electric utility – to forgive $127 million of customer debt.