If it wasn’t bad enough watching the action unfold surrounding unconstitutional gun laws and the militias being formed to fight against them, now it seems like Virginia is trying to pull yet another move threatening the rights of law abiding gun owners.

They want to shut down every gun range in the state that isn’t owned by the government. 

According to House Bill 567, any indoor shooting range would be prohibited by law – UNLESS it was inside of a building owned or leased by the state. 

And any business owners who decided to defy the law could be facing up to a $100,000 fine and potential additional civil penalties.

According to the bill, which has not yet been voted on or approved, would prohibit” the operation of an indoor shooting range, defined in the bill, in any building not owned or leased by the Commonwealth or federal government.”

For those that would be staying open, the state appears to want them to act as a data collecting operation, creating a state-controlled list of who is using the range as well as their photo ID and home address. 

Let’s be clear. This is a very real threat against the rights laid out in the Constitution. Americans have the right to defend themselves. And the state is literally trying to stop gun owners from training and improving their skills.

This is an attack on our liberties. 

And not only is it unfair to those who wish to train, it’s also a blow to small business owners across the Commonwealth.

Staff writer and retired officer Leah Ayana brought you more about the Commonwealth’s unreasonable moves to restrict gun owners’ rights to bear arms. 

The NRA created a website with a countdown representing the number of days until Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s “gun confiscation.”

As I write this, the time left is just under 20 hours.

Of course, that’s not exactly accurate, but the impending doom the organization and other Virginians are feeling is obvious.

The legislative session for Virginia begins later this week, and the first hearing of the Senate Courts of Justice Committee is January 13th, where a vote is likely for Northam’s new gun laws.  The NRA has been hosting town hall meetings, activating grassroots representatives, and is holding Lobby Day in Richmond on the 13th.

The group’s message is clear: Don’t try to take our guns. 

Don’t violate our constitutional rights.

Don’t threaten the commonwealth with the National Guard and police officers to take our guns.

The pro-gun organization isn’t the only entity or person speaking out against these proposed laws. 

Virginian Delegate Dave LaRock has sent a letter to Governor Northam asking him to deescalate the entire situation.

LaRock advocates that the proposed legislation and budget appropriations connected to gun confiscation, as well as the message to the public that the National Guard and local police will be the ones enforcing these laws, have the potential to:

“…place neighbor against neighbor in possibly violent confrontations.”

Earlier this week, LaRock received a letter from the wife of an active duty Virginia Guardsman, Michaela Claywell.  Mrs. Claywell informed LaRock of “threats of severe violence” that had been posted on Facebook, which “appear to condone violence against Guard members and their families” if they attempt to take their guns.

These threats are obviously criminal and are being investigated according to Col. Gary Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent, but they also lend evidence to LaRock’s fear of turning “neighbor against neighbor.”

This all came about in the wake of Representative Donald McEachin publicly encouraging Governor Northam to activate the National Guard to enforce the gun confiscations they seek, after many members of the law enforcement community spoke out saying that they wouldn’t.

The only problem is, the National Guardsmen don’t want to, either.

And the threat of doing just that is “undermining the safety and peace-of-mind of families across Virginia,” according to LaRock.

Mrs. Claywell and several other wives signed the letter to LaRock, which was also sent along to the governor, some members of Congress and state legislators.  In it, Mrs. Claywell expressed concern over Rep McEachin’s statements, as well as the lashing out Guardsmen and their families have endured in the time following.

In her letter, Mrs. Claywell asked 2 things:

“1. Hold accountable the people that have used hate speech and made criminal threats against our soldiers and our families.

2.  Use your media relations teams in a coordinated effort to de-escalate the current situation but also monitor this situation as the 2nd Amendment issue in Virginia progresses.”

She went on to say:

“Please use your collective influence to protect our soldiers and our families. Our children should never be the focus of death threats or hate speech because of politics. Our soldiers have given more than many Virginians could ever appreciate; this treatment is not what they deserve.”

In LaRock’s letter, he told Governor Northam:

“The safety of our citizens and the security of the Virginia National Guard members and Law Enforcement members and their families is of utmost importance.”

He also asked the governor to meet with Mrs. Claywell and the other concerned wives and family members regarding the legislation to “discuss the specific actions related to gun legislation which you intend to propose or support.”

Wiseley, LaRock has noticed “evidence of unwavering resolve being communicated to us through individual Virginians and through local governments that an overreach involving Constitutionally-protected Second Amendment rights will be resisted with strong determination.”

In other words, the 91% of municipalities in the state who have declared themselves Sanctuaries for their 2nd amendment rights, as well as organizations like the NRA, and individuals such as Mrs. Claywell and her fellow Guard families, aren’t interested in hearing any more about your unconstitutional legislation proposals.  So stop it.

LaRock continued in his letter to Northam:

“It is incumbent upon you and me, as well as all elected officials, to avoid words or actions that unnecessarily increase fear and or the potential for harm to Virginians whose safety and wellbeing we are entrusted to protect.

“The matter has become unsettling to Virginians who are unsure how such gun restrictions would be enforced and by whom. Without knowing the ultimate disposition of the legislation, I can only reassure those concerned that it would not benefit the safety and security of our Commonwealth to have State Police or Virginia Guardsmen actively enforce new gun laws, as such a scenario could have the potential to place neighbor against neighbor in possibly violent confrontations, a scenario I hope you and I agree would be totally unacceptable.”

LaRock continued:

“For these reasons and many more, I am asking you to act immediately, as requested by the signers of the attached letter, to take public and very visible steps to “Deescalate” this situation by reassuring Virginians, being very clear about your intentions, and to further confirm that there will be no orders made to the National Guard or Law Enforcement to confiscate firearms from Virginians.”

At this time, there has been no response to LaRock or Mrs. Claywell.

Aside from Mrs. Claywell, signers of the letter from Guardsman wives are as follows:

Cheryl Williams, Wife of Major General Timothy Williams

Porter Kobernik, Wife of Lieutenant Colonel Kurt Kobernik

Bethany Price, Wife of Major Brandon Price

Michaela Claywell, Wife of First Sergeant Denver Claywell

Jessica Turner, Wife of Sergeant First Class Brandon Turner

Sarah Springer, Wife of Sergeant First Class Wayne Springer

Ashley Bosserman, Wife of Sergeant First Class Paul Bosserman

Bethany Jesse, Wife of Former Guardsman Sergeant Eric Jesse 

Ladies, we at Law Enforcement Today are with you, and thank you all for your families’ service to our great nation.

Delegate LaRock and other politicians with your heads on straight, NRA, Virginia Citizens Defense League, Gun Owners of America, 91% of municipalities all across Virginia, and thousands upon thousands of Virginians who do not want their rights infringed upon: Keep fighting the good fight.  The whole nation is watching.

In the meantime, in his infinite wisdom, Governor Ralph Northam has proposed legislative criminal justice reforms that he is seeking to be passed this year.

He’s not only proposing the changes.  He’s promising them.

Amidst the impending doom of democratic control in both houses of the General Assembly set to take over next week, Northam declared that he is fully behind reforms that would make the system more “equitable” and “compassionate” in his state.

Included in these reforms so far is decriminalizing marijuana possession, raising the threshold for felony larceny, and seeing less people with suspended licenses in the state.

Possession of marijuana would no longer be punishable by incarceration, it would be only a $50 fine.  The Governor doesn’t just want to decriminalize marijuana possession.  He also wants to expunge past records for people who were charged with the crime.  According to Northam’s plan, this is because:

“Studies show marijuana arrests have disproportionately impacted people of color—this legislation clears the records of individuals who have been previously convicted of simple possession.”

Dealing with theft, he would like to see the threshold turning the crime into a felony increased from its current $500 to $1,000.   

As far as driver’s licenses, the governor wants to stop the suspension of the licenses when people fail to pay fines, or non-driving related crimes like not paying jail fees or not paying for their gas at the pumps.  

Youth accused of crimes will no longer be eligible to be tried as adults at age 14, if Northam’s legislation is passed, as the new age minimum would be 16.  An interesting choice, due to the violence of crimes being committed by younger and younger suspects these days.

Additionally, the governor seeks to bring changes to the state’s parole system, which is essentially nonexistent save for a few circumstances right now.  If he gets the changes he seeks, an inmate’s age will be a consideration, in hopes of keeping them out of jail.  His plan is to solely punish offenders with parole when arrestees are 50-years-old and have already served 20 years in prison or are 55 years old and have already served 15. 

It also retroactively allows parole to be considered for prisoners who were sentenced from 1995-2000 who are still behind bars, due to juries not being properly advised of the option of parole available during that time.

And let’s not forget prisoners who are incapacitated or terminally ill.  If they are “deemed to not pose a threat to public safety,” Governor Northam wants them to be released.

In the budget proposed, $4.6 million is set aside for pre-trial and probation services, funding for a new public defender’s office in Prince William County, and more public defenders. There is also $2 million budgeted for pre-release and post-incarceration services.

Governor Northam’s reasoning is:

“All Virginians deserve access to a fair and equitable criminal justice system.”

That’s a joke, right Governor?

All Virginians also deserve to know they’re going to get justice when crimes are committed against them.  And to know that offenders aren’t going to just be slapped on the wrist and let back out to do the same thing all over again. 

They deserve to have communities whose streets aren’t littered with criminals walking past their children, all in the name of “equality.”

Governor Northam said:

“My proposed criminal justice reform legislation and budget initiatives will combat mass incarceration, increase supports for returning citizens, and ensure meaningful second chances for those who have paid their debts to society. This is a bold step towards a more just and inclusive Commonwealth, and I look forward to working with the General Assembly to pass these measures into law.”

Giving second chances is one thing.  Following New York’s footsteps with a “get out of jail free card” is a different story.

The Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security, Brian Moran, also made a statement regarding the proposal:

“This administration continues to demonstrate its dedication to comprehensive criminal justice reform.  The impact of this legislative package is substantial and transformative.

Our parole reform bills will make many more offenders eligible for discretionary parole and the elimination of driver’s license suspensions for unpaid fees and fines and non-driving related offenses will affect hundreds of thousands of people.”

“Substantial and transformative,” indeed.  Dangerously transformative.