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Virginia judge rules indoor gun range can reopen, deals blow to Gov. Northam's shutdown order
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D)/(Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Virginia judge rules indoor gun range can reopen, dealing a blow to Gov. Northam's shutdown order

The court determined Northam overstepped his authority

A Virginia judge has ruled that an indoor gun range shut down by Gov. Ralph Northam's (D) coronavirus executive order may immediate reopen, saying the governor overstepped with his mandate because state statute "specifically limits his authority in relation to the right to keep and bear arms."

What are the details?

SafeSide Lynchburg, an indoor gun range in Lynchburg, was shut down along with other indoor ranges in the state as part of Northam's COVID-19 dictates. Outdoor ranges were still allowed to operate, while indoor ranges were determined to be "places of amusement," and therefore deemed nonessential during the pandemic.

SafeSide sued Northam over the closure, joined by Gun Owners of America, Virginia Citizens Defense League, and the Association of Virginia Gun Ranges.

On Monday, Judge Patrick Yeatts issued a temporary injunction allowing the range to reopen, finding that "indoor ranges are protected" by a statute that states that "the Governor cannot 'in any way limit or prohibit the rights of the people to keep and bear arms.'"

Judge Yeatts wrote, "The plaintiffs have demonstrated a depravation of the constitutional right to keep and bear arms, financial hardship for the business and employees, and lack of training access for its customers."

The Washington Free Beacon reported that "the decision does not apply to all ranges in the state, but gun-rights groups that helped file the suit said it lays the groundwork for eventually overturning the statewide ban."

Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, told the outlet, "We're weighing our options because our ultimate goal is that we want all indoor ranges free of this. What the judge laid out was great reasoning why, really, none of the ranges should be falling under this."

Anything else?

In reaction to the court's decision, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (D) told The Washington Times, "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."

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