VA Gov. Northam Lost One When Judge Ordered Gun Range Re-opened

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam nra-ila image
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam lost one recently when a judge in Lynchburg ruled that the governor overstepped his authority by shutting down ranges. nra-ila image

U.S.A.-(Ammoland.com)- Anti-gun Democrat Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam lost one in Lynchburg Circuit Court when Judge F. Patrick Yeatts ruled—in a much-overlooked case—that Northam overstepped his authority when he declared a state of emergency and closed “recreational and entertainment” businesses, including indoor shooting ranges.

According to NPR, Judge Yeatts essentially said Northam lacks the authority to close gun ranges, as explained in a six-page order.

There is an interesting passage on Page 4 of the order, which could have ramifications reaching far beyond the doors of SafeSide Tactical, the indoor shooting range that sued. According to WFXR News, the range re-opened.

“But the case involves both statutory and constitutional rights analyses, not a pure constitutional rights analysis,” Judge Yeatts explained. “Levels of scrutiny favorable to the Governor in the present case contradict §44-146.15(3) (state statute)’s provision that the Governor canot “in any way limit or prohibit rights of the people to keep and bear arms.” (Emphasis added in original document). Having found that indoor gun ranges are protected by the statute, the Court cannot uphold executive orders that limit or prohibit indoor gun ranges. The Court assumes executive orders regulating all businesses would not violate the statute, but the Order targets indoor gun ranges by lumping them in with the closure of recreational businesses.

“The Court declines to invent a level of scrutiny to circumvent the text in the statute,” Judge Yeatts continued. “If the Court were to use a level of scrutiny, the Court would find that proper training and practice, at a range as analyzed above, is fundamental to the right to keep and bear arms, even necessary for the self-defense concern discussed by the Governor. Accordingly, the Court would apply strict scrutiny and find that the Order fails because the total closing of all indoor gun ranges is not narrowly tailored.”

In his decision, Judge Yeatts alluded to a Second Amendment Foundation case from the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, Ezell v. City of Chicago, which held “that the federal constitution’s Second Amendment includes a corresponding right to train with firearms by target practice at a range.”

According to the Virginian Pilot,” Richard Schragger, a law professor at the University of Virginia, said in an email the ruling only applies to the Lynchburg gun range, but the reasoning could apply across the state and other gun ranges could bring a similar lawsuit.

NPR noted that Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring issued a statement that his office was “considering how to respond.”

“Governor Northam's efforts to save lives and slow the spread of COVID-19 are necessary and proving to be effective, but unfortunately, the gun lobby believes the ability to shoot a gun indoors during this pandemic is worth risking further spread of the virus and making Virginia communities and families less safe,” Herring said, according to the Associated Press, according to the NPR report.

But in the final lines of his ruling, Judge Yeatts appears to respond:  (by law) which the Court has a duty to interpret and apply.”

It wasn’t the only piece of bad news for Northam. Fox News reported the Justice Department is “siding with a Virginia church suing Gov. Ralph Northam after police threatened a pastor with jail time or a $2,500 fine for violating the state’s coronavirus lockdown restrictions by holding a 16-person church service on Palm Sunday.”

On the far side of the country, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, also a Democrat now seeking a third term, announced he is going to allow a slow re-opening of the Evergreen State, with fishing and hunting seasons to open May 5, one day after his previous May 4 deadline, but he extended the overall shutdown to May 31.

Washington was the only state, according to some reports, where recreational fishing had been suspended. The order also pushed back the opener of the spring wild turkey hunting season.

Inslee has been taking increasing heat from voters as small businesses across the Evergreen State have been hammered hard. Seattle’s famous Pyramid Alehouse, a landmark business located near the city’s baseball and football stadiums, announced its permanent closure last week.

Inslee’s emergency order did not exempt gun shops or shooting ranges, and many, but not all, have been closed for several weeks. Others remain open in defiance of the emergency order nearly two months ago. Those shops have instituted creative business practices to remain open.

One significant impact has been on concealed pistol license applications in Washington State. For the second month in a row, the state Department of Licensing reported a decline in the number of active CPLs. At the end of February, there were 650,825 active licenses. That declined to 649,165 as of May 1, a loss of 1,660 CPLs.

Sheriffs and police departments have suspended taking new CPL applications because the process requires completed fingerprinting, and that requires physical proximity between staff and applicants.

While federal lawsuits have been filed in other states over similar issues, so far Washington authorities have not been sued.



About Dave WorkmanDave Workman

Dave Workman is a senior editor at TheGunMag.com and Liberty Park Press, author of multiple books on the Right to Keep & Bear Arms and formerly an NRA-certified firearms instructor.

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nobodyuknow
nobodyuknow
6 months ago

You people in Virginia elected this Communist Democrap, Anti-American. Anti-Constitutional, Power Hungry, Control Freak, Baztard! At the next election, DO NOT ELECT ANYONE WITH A (D) BEHIND THEIR NAME!!! All of the (D)’s are against EVERYTHING THAT AMERICA STANDS FOR! IF YOU WANT A CENTRALLY CONTROLLED COMMUNIST POLICE STATE GOVERMENT OF OPPRESSION AND SLAVERY, JUST KEEP VOTING COMMUNIST DEMOCRAP!!! IT WILL BE A GOVERNMENT OF OPPRESSION AND SLAVERY JUST LIKE THE RUSSIAN PEOPLE SUFFERED THROUGH THE UNION OF SOVIET SOCAILIST REPUBLICS FOR OVER 70 YEARS!!!

Mikial
Mikial
6 months ago
Reply to  nobodyuknow

I sure didn’t vote for the jerk. You have to understand that Northern Virginia is overrun with Liberal scum escaping the high taxes in Maryland and DC. THEY elected this a$$hole.

Dave in Fairfax
Editor
Dave in Fairfax
6 months ago
Reply to  Dave Workman

Dave I think it was in reference to Luv2shoot’s comment about MD banning recreational fishing and hunting, unless it is to provide sustenance for yourself or family.

Dave in Fairfax
Editor
Dave in Fairfax
6 months ago
Reply to  Dave Workman

Oldvet, My bad, I thought that you were referring to this thread rather than the how-to-cook one.

Dave in Fairfax
Editor
Dave in Fairfax
6 months ago

Oldvet, People think there are lots of squirrels until they start hunting and eating them. They thin out pretty fast.

a.x. perez
a.x. perez
6 months ago

Indoor range where I practice choosing to stay closed during quarantine, but attached gun shop opened, and still running HCL training and other basic classes.
It’s going to take at least 1000 rounds of .40 S&W and 600 rounds of 9mm Para. to get my skills back up to mediocre.

Tionico
Tionico
6 months ago

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring issued a statement that his office was “considering how to respond.” there is only one lawful and.or ratioinal response: SHUT UP AND LET GUN RANGES OPEN. The ONLY reason Jay Inslee has not oved to close the “rebel” gunstores is that he KNOWS the Second Ammdnemtn Foundation have a lawsuit already drafted, at least six qualified plaintiffs with standing having joined, and this suit WILL be filed within an hour or two of Inslee’s making such a stupidmove. Further, I believe Clint Didier, out T=ri-Cities way, has filed a lawsuit against Inslee in Federal court… Read more »

Camotim
Camotim
6 months ago

SIC SEMPER TYRANNIS!!!

PMinFl
PMinFl
6 months ago

don’t worry about the governor in Va., there’s all those sanctuary counties now.

Luv2shoot
Luv2shoot
6 months ago

Maryland is another state that has banned recreational fishing and hunting, unless it is to provide sustenance for yourself or family. I believe gun ranges are also closed.

KenW
KenW
6 months ago

Yes I watched that too. Hannity brags about being a marksman but never qualifies his qualifications, like maybe qualifying sharpshooter in Marine Corps Boot Camp as I did. Bragging about having a carry permit all his life, when it wasn’t until Florida passed their “shall issue” statue that concealed carry gained momentum. Yes there were states were you could get a carry permit, but it took him two years to get his NYC permit, which John Stossel was turned down for. A NYS permit is not valid in NYC, not even 60 years ago when my dad had his NYS… Read more »

Barry
Barry
6 months ago

Hannity is quickly joining the “I am an idiot” grouping. He is moving to the left as he has become more sure that only he is right. Northam is an idiot and Hannity is sounding more and more like him. He trying to sound politically correct about things he is wrong about.

Green Mtn. Boy
Green Mtn. Boy
6 months ago

Yes and he’s had a permit all his life. I’m sick of hearing that line of his as it’s supposed to make him a 2 nd amendment expert,he’s fine with government infringements.
His guest Dan Bongino took the tact that it was both 1 st. and 2 nd. rights and the exercise of those rights.
I find myself tuning into Hannity less often just as Bill Oblowhard before him.

RoyD
RoyD
6 months ago

USA: In another thread I just posted about the same thing. Scary, are we both great minds, or what?

Heed the Call-up
Heed the Call-up
6 months ago

I believe that picture appears to have whited-out the joint he had in his hand. It could better explain his edicts.

Buster
Buster
6 months ago

Yay team!

Let’s see…the score is now is something like Northam 77, 2nd Amendment 3

Will Flatt
Will Flatt
6 months ago

DemoKKKrat Blackface Governor Ralphie needs to resign, do not pass Go, do not collect $$.

ras52
ras52
6 months ago

Northam`s efforts have been more a show of dictatorship rather than an effort to save lives. Thank you SafeSide Tactical and Judge Yeatts!

Deplorable Bill
Deplorable Bill
6 months ago

OK, he’s wrong — legally. We all KNEW he was/is wrong. If you or I had done such a thing there would be an arrest, a court date, a fine and maybe worse. So what does he get for sticking his hand in the tyrant cookie jar? Not a thing. Just because he is a governor does not put him above the law, or does it? Another example of the two tiered legal system. Tyranny under color of virus (or any other excuse they can come up with). Maybe he will get the virus.

Arm up, carry on.