RICHMOND, Va. — The Supreme Court of Virginia just denied a petition that challenged Governor Northam's weapons ban at a gun rally in Richmond.
Gov. Ralph Northam had announced the ban on Wednesday as he declared a state of emergency over threats of "armed militia groups storming our Capitol."
The Virginia Citizens Defense League and Gunowners of America filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction against the ban.
Richmond Circuit Court Judge Joi Taylor's already upheld the Virginia governor's ban on all types of weapons at a pro-gun rally planned for next week. The order came hours after the FBI announced the arrest of three alleged white supremacists in Maryland on Thursday.
However, later on Thursday and in response to the judge's order, an appeal was filed against the decision. The Office of the Attorney General said the plaintiffs filed the appeal to the Supreme Court of Virginia to block Northam's executive order.
The court denied the appeal on Thursday. You can read the denial below:
Governor Northam released a statement on the court's decision:
I am grateful that this executive order stands, and that it will help to ensure the safety of all Virginians on Monday.
I am confident that the majority of those attending Monday’s rally will be peaceful. I have full respect for their fundamental American right to voice their opinions. But over the past few days, the news has confirmed that this rally is attracting extreme individuals and groups—including national hate, neo-Nazi, and white supremacist groups—who are threatening violence and looking to advance a violent agenda.
As your Governor, I will do everything in my power to keep Virginians safe. I thank Attorney General Mark Herring and our legal teams for their tireless efforts.
You can read the appeal that was filed against the judge's order upholding the weapons ban here or below:
Virginia's solicitor general told the judge that law enforcement identified "credible evidence" that armed out-of-state groups planned to come to Virginia with the possible intention of participating in a "violent insurrection."
Gov. Northam issued the following statement after the judge's ruling:
"This is the right decision. I took this action to protect Virginians from credible threats of violence. These threats are real—as evidenced by reports of neo-Nazis arrested this morning after discussing plans to head to Richmond with firearms.
"I’m grateful to the Circuit Court for recognizing the seriousness of these threats, and for upholding this reasonable, legal action to protect all Virginians, including demonstrators and policymakers. I will continue to do everything in my power to keep Virginians safe."
13News Now spoke with VCDL President Philip VanCleave before word of the suit broke on Thursday. He said they were looking into it.
“It has exceeded his authority,” VanCleave said. “If everyone else has to obey the law, he has to obey the law.”
Most groups will start lobbying at 8 a.m. on Monday. VCDL has 37 busloads ready to travel. They will also hold a rally on the Capitol steps at 11 a.m.
VanCleave said members who don’t want to disarm have another option.
"If you stay on 9th Street, which they blocked off to allow the whole street to be filled up, then you can be armed in that area,” VanCleave said.
Brady, a national group against gun violence will be represented too. Brady President Kris Brown thinks this ban is the right call.
“We’ve all seen, as Virginians, the horror of Charlottesville and don’t ever want any kind of situation like that to ever happen again,” Brown said.