Virginia's highest court upholds weapons ban at gun rally

1 year ago
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia's highest court on Friday upheld a ban on firearms at an upcoming pro-gun rally in the state's capital, an event that authorities feared could erupt in violence at the hands of armed extremists.The Virginia Supreme Court's decision came a day after gun-rights groups sued to overturn the ban that Gov. Ralph Northam issued earlier this week, citing what he called credible threats of “armed militia groups storming our Capitol.”The lawsuit and court rulings came as the FBI arrested six men whom authorities linked to a white supremacist group known as The Base. At least three of them were planning to attend the pro-gun rally Monday on the grounds of the state Capitol in Richmond, according to an official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss an active investigation.Virginia has become Ground Zero in the nation's raging debate over gun control, as a new Democratic majority in the state legislature has promised to pass an array of restrictions, including universal background checks and a red-flag law.Gun-rights groups argued Northam's ban would violate their Second Amendment right to bear arms and their First Amendment freedom of speech. But a Richmond judge upheld the ban on Thursday, citing rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court and other courts that the Second Amendment is not unlimited.The state Supreme Court did not say whether it agreed with the lower court's assessment. In a terse, two-page ruling, the court said it did not have enough information “to discern whether the circuit court abused its discretion” in rejecting the gun-rights groups' request to lift the ban.The court noted that it did not have a transcript of the hearing or a written statement of facts describing details of the hearing.Northam praised the ruling, saying in a written statement that keeping the ban in place would "help to ensure the safety of all Virginians” during the rally on Monday, which is also a federal holiday honoring Martin
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