A circuit court has granted a temporary injunction blocking the City of Winchester’s ban on guns in parks and public-permitted events, but leaves intact a ban on guns in city buildings. That’s a partial win for the plaintiffs well over a year after the lawsuit was first filed.

“Boy, do the wheels of justice turn slowly in this country, wow,” Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL) President Philip Van Cleave told The Virginia Star. “You know, it’s an injunction. We were hoping to get something like that fairly quickly.”

The VCDL called the injunction a major victory in an update, explaining, “There was another major part of today’s ruling: that the U.S. Supreme Court’s Bruen decision applies to Article 1, Section 13 of Virginia’s Constitution.  Thus, determining if a gun law is constitutional under the Virginia Constitution requires showing that either the text, history, or traditions of that law were in place at the time of the Founding.”

The injunction will stand while the case goes forward. Although the court has ruled that the VCDL and Gun Owners of America (GOA) don’t have standing, the organizations are supporting local plaintiffs who are carrying on the lawsuit.

Van Cleave said that the one of the ordinances blocked by the judge, the ordinance governing firearms at permitted events, was particularly problematic because it would require businesses near events to not allow guns – including gun stores.

“The main effect for us as a business, because our business is located in city limits, was the proximity to permitted events,” said A.J. Williams, general manager at Stonewall Arms, which is one of the plaintiffs.

Williams said the still-in-place ban on guns in city buildings is a key concern.

In a press release, GOA Senior Vice President Erich Pratt said, “We appreciate Judge Eldridge’s move to enjoin much of this unconstitutional ordinance, and we are confident that we will succeed in fully dismantling this law at trial. This is just another example of the positive effect that the Bruen decision is having in pushing back on the anti-gun policies of local, state, and federal governments.”

State Senator Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax) tweeted a response to The Winchester Star’s article, “Court Blocks Enforcement of Portions of Winchester’s Gun Ban.”

This headline should have been – “Judge Rules Property Owner Can’t Control People’s Behavior on It’s Own Property,” Surovell tweeted.

Since the Virginia General Assembly authorized localities to pass laws banning guns in certain locations, 16 other localities passed bans similar to those in Winchester, Van Cleave said. He said Winchester’s ordinance isn’t stricter than other localities, since the majority of the localities passed bans using the maximum authority granted under the law.

If the Winchester lawsuit is successful, Van Cleave said they’ll take action against other localities.

“You have to start somewhere, so we started there,” he said.

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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Winchester, Virginia” by APK. CC BY-SA 4.0.