The Virginia Democratic Attorney General took to Twitter to brag about using virus restriction as an excuse to “block” one of the country’s largest gun shows from operating. He said he was “pleased” that a judge agreed with him.
On Thursday, Attorney General Mark Herring tweeted in response to winning a lawsuit filed by The Nation’s Gun Show trying to remain open:
“I have successfully BLOCKED a massive gun show from operating at full capacity this week in NOVA.
“Putting hundred 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.”
🚨BREAKING🚨I have successfully BLOCKED a massive gun show from operating at full capacity this weekend in NOVA.
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.
— Mark Herring (@MarkHerringVA) November 19, 2020
The Nation’s Gun Show was scheduled to be held at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, Virginia, on November 20-22. However, the Governor and Attorney General stepped in to close the event using the coronavirus as an excuse.
Herring said the gun show “would most certainly become a super-spreader event and could infect hundreds if not thousands of Virginians with COVID.”
On November 13, Governor Ralph Northam (D) issued Executive Order Sixty-Seven prohibiting the congregation of people in bars and other venues. Section 12 of the order stated that entertain and amusement business could only operate at 30% of the lowest occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy, or 250 persons maximum.
The order states that any business that cannot comply with this restriction and others must close.
— Kevin Olivas (@KevinOlivasMedi) November 14, 2020
The Nation’s Gun Show filed for an emergency injunction in Fairfax County Circuit Court to allow the event to proceed. Annette Elliot, president of Showmaster Gun Shows who presents The Nation’s Gun Show, wrote:
“If you ever go into any Walmart, there is usually an average of 400 people inside at any given time. Let’s say they’re only open 10 hours a day, that means 4,000 people per day.
“We are open three days and will have 4,000 people, maybe, per day, which adds up to 12,000 people for the weekend. That is the same number of people that went through the show in August this year, and we had a third less than that at the show in October.”
Elliot explained that the Dulles Expo Center is 130,000 square feet and the Walmart nearby is only 80,000 square feet. The aisles at the gun show are 14 feet wide, as opposed to Walmart’s aisle being 6 feet wide.
“We are bigger and better able to social distance. We limit our occupancy; everyone wears a mask and follows the COVID REQUIREMENTS. We have also had two shows already and have not been a super spreader.
“All we ask is that we are allowed to operate on the same type of business model and at the same level as Walmart across the road. We are not entertainment and amusement.”
— AmmoSeek.com (@AmmoSeek) November 18, 2020
Judge Brett Kassabian rejected the injunction at a hearing on Thursday morning. He said he was sympathetic to the fact that the show organizers and vendors could lose millions of dollars, but the judge added:
“To allow thousands of people to roam unchecked in the throes of the worst pandemic in 100 years is not in the public interest.”
The Nation Gun Show had taken precautions prior to the Governor’s order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at the event. Their website advised all attendees to wear masks and social distance:
“We are so excited to be back and see everyone! Please remember the virus is still with us. All CDC and the Governor’s Guidelines must be followed.
“Please wear a mask and social distance. Due to COVID-19 social distancing requirements, we have only 900 tables available. Wider aisles for public and exhibitors allows for Social Distancing.”
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National Republican Senatorial Committee Senior Advisor Matt Whitlock reacted to the shutdown:
“Absurd. They require masks, distancing (it’s a giant space), and limited capacity like any store. And it’s not just guns, you’re shutting down dozens of small businesses that operate rely on this to feed their families.”
Whitlock asked, “Would you be doing this if it weren’t a gun show?”
Absurd. They require masks, distancing (it's a giant space) and limited capacity like any store. And it's not just guns, you're shutting down dozens of small businesses that operate rely on this to feed their families.
Would you be doing this if it weren't a gun show?
— Matt Whitlock (@mattdizwhitlock) November 19, 2020
Attorney General Herring claimed the event had to be restricted to prevent it from being a virus super-spreader, yet he has supported the mass gatherings of protestors in Virginia and has taken no court action to prevent these “super-spreader” events.
He said during the heart of the COVID-19 outbreak in May 2020 as large protests grew from the murder of George Floyd:
“George Floyd should still be alive, and if he had been white, he almost certainly would be…Peaceful protests and demonstrations can and should continue, as they are important tools of accountability and visibility.”
Screenwriter and novelist Kamran Pasha responded to the judge’s decision by pointing out that massive protests have been permitted without court interference. He wrote, “The courts didn’t try to stop the BLM super spreader rallies. Strange.”
The courts didn't try to stop the BLM super spreader rallies. Strange. pic.twitter.com/IAULWV2UDE
— Kamran Pasha (@kamranpasha) November 19, 2020
Fox News host Laura Ingraham interviewed gun store owner Kenneth Norman on “The Ingraham Angle.” Norman is the owner of Red River Guns and Ammo, which was supposed to take part in the Nation’s Gun Show.
Norman said the restrictions were unwarranted. He pointed out that there were two previous gun shows where everyone wore masks because, “contrary to people’s beliefs, we are not dregs of society. We do care about people.”
“We wore masks. Nothing was burnt down. There was no violence, and this is in a room full of guns and ammo (filled) with largely Trump supporters.
“You could walk across the parking lot to Walmart where some wear a mask and some don’t.
“I am insulted that somebody could think that we are just selling guns under the table…a bunch of rednecks picking barbeque out of their teeth and spitting tobacco juice on the floor and not following the rules..”
The Nation’s Gun Show website says:
“The Nation’s Gun Show is a place where like-minded people can get together to buy, sell and trade firearms, train, and learn how to use them safely, which is protected by the 2nd Amendment in the United States Constitution as well as the Virginia Constitution.”
The Second Amendment to The Constitution of The United States ends with:
“The right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
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