The Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL) and Gun Owners of America (GOA) have teamed up to challenge firearms restrictions with lawsuits filed against a pair of Virginia cities.
In a lawsuit filed today in Roanoke, Virginia, the plaintiffs challenged that city’s restrictions on firearms carried in parks and at or “adjacent to” permitted events. The complaint alleges multiple constitutional violations and highlights the dangers faced by unarmed civilians in Roanoke’s nearly 13,000 acres of park land.
The second lawsuit, supported by VCDL and GOA and filed today as well on behalf of two individuals against the City of Winchester, challenges a ban on firearms that the locality has enacted for all of its city-owned parking garages. Winchester’s parking garage gun ban stems from a 2020 legal change in the state allowing Virginia jurisdictions to restrict firearms in government-owned or -used buildings. The complaint alleges that despite being government-owned, Winchester’s parking garages contain no apparent additional police or safety presence that would signify “sensitive location” status. However, the parking garages have been the scene of criminal activity, including a machete attack several years ago, necessitating the need for citizens to be able to have the ability to defend themselves.
Ambler Law Offices based in Winchester, Virginia, is representing the VCDL and GOA in the Roanoke suit and the two individuals in the Winchester suit. A copy of the Winchester lawsuit filing and a copy of the Roanoke lawsuit filing can both be viewed on the Ambler Law Offices website.
Violations of the restrictions in both cities are punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor, carrying possible penalties of up to a year in jail and fines of up to $2,500.
It’s notable that a Winchester judge in a previous VCDL/GOA/U.S. LawShield supported lawsuit, opined that restrictions on firearms in parks and at permitted events did indeed violate Virginia’s constitution (the earlier decision left intact restrictions on government buildings, including parking garages, which were not at issue in the case). Despite that decision, many jurisdictions in Virginia still have exactly such bans remaining in parks and at permitted events.
“If the colonists had left their muskets at home when mustering on the town greens at Lexington and Concord, we might still be British subjects,” notes Gilbert Ambler, one of the attorneys representing the VDCL, GOA and the other plaintiffs in the lawsuits. “Indeed, there is a proud tradition in America of carrying firearms for personal protection in public places and this includes parks, where real threats exist and every American should have the right to protect themselves from such threats.”
GOA and VCDL are committed to ensuring that where these unconstitutional restrictions remain that they are challenged.
“It is time that ‘We the People’ push back on government’s ever-increasing infringement on our right to self-defense,” says Philip Van Cleave, president of the VCDL. “We are tired of our lives being put in jeopardy in dangerous gun-free zones, where violent criminals thrive.”
Unfortunately, legal challenges are a necessity to restore firearm rights in Virginia (and elsewhere). In fact, in Virginia, with a recently elected Democratic majority in both the state Senate and House, proposed anti-gun laws have begun to flood in.
For those gun owners or anyone concerned about their rights in Virginia, the VCDL is hosting its annual Lobby Day event this coming Monday, January 15. There members and attendees can gather to speak to their legislators in the General Assembly building, as well as hear a host of pro-gun guest speakers on the Assembly grounds. The VCDL-hosted Lobby Day is a great opportunity to ensure politicians hear the pro-rights voices in the state and understand why it is important to protect rights by not imposing firearm restrictions on the state’s citizens.
Editor’s Note: TTAG will continue to keep gun owners everywhere in the loop as we share news on the fight to regain our rights that were negotiated away by those before us.