(The Center Square) – Indoor gun range SafeSide Lynchburg can reopen after a court ruled Virginia law does not give Gov. Ralph Northam the authority to close the business.
Although Virginia law grants the governor broad authority during a state of emergency, it specifically prohibits him from limiting gun rights that would be respected in normal times. This includes possession, carrying, transportation, sale and transfer of firearms. According Judge F. Patrick Yeatts, this is not an exhaustive list, and the code also applies to other legal applications of a firearm, such as operating it at an indoor gun range.
At this time, the injunction is only granted to Safeside Lynchburg. The state still can enforce social distancing and sanitation guidelines.
“It’s an important victory in that a court in the Commonwealth of Virginia has ruled that Governor Northam’s illegal and unconstitutional order regarding gun ranges – issued without any sort of authority, and in direct conflict with statutory limitations imposed by the legislature – is void and of no force for the SafeSide Tactical range,” Gun Owners of America Senior Vice President of Erich Pratt told The Center Square.
Gun Owners of America joined the lawsuit as a plaintiff with SafeSide Lynchburg, the Virginia Citizens Defense League and the Association of Virginia Gun Ranges.
Northam shut down indoor gun ranges, along with other businesses his administration classified as recreation and entertainment to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Other businesses shut down include theaters, gyms and bowling alleys.
The owner of several Virginia Gold’s Gym affiliates, Merrill C. “Sandy” Hall, also has sued Northam and others, arguing the governor does not have the authority to impose criminal penalties through an executive order unless there is a state of emergency and an evacuation declared. Although Virginia is in a state of emergency, no evacuation has been issued.
Northam’s office did not respond to a request for comment, but he said in a news conference the state did not single out any business and it is considering what options it can take moving forward.