Gun Advocates Sue City of Winchester over Gun Ordinance

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A coalition of gun rights organizations and individuals are suing the City of Winchester over its ordinance banning firearms in city buildings, parks, and places near permitted events. The lawsuit, announced Wednesday, focuses on violations of the Virginia Constitution.

“The suit alleges that the Winchester ordinance violates no fewer than four provisions of the Virginia Constitutions — those protecting: (i) the right to keep and bear arms; (ii) the right to be afforded due process of law by being given clear notice of what a criminal law prohibits; (iii) the right to free speech and assembly; and (iv) the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures,” states a press release from the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL), which is one of the plaintiffs.

Other plaintiffs include Gun Owners of America, Gun Owners Foundation, U.S. Law Shield of Virginia, Stonewall Arms, and several individuals. They’re asking the court to declare that the ordinance is void and issue an injunction against Winchester and its officials to keep them from enforcing the ordinance.

“It is almost impossible to know where the law bans possession of firearms, but it even applies to a business that is open to the public from having its owner possess a firearm in the store at certain times.  The Winchester ordinance contains no exemption for those with valid Concealed Carry Permits, or even for state judges,” the VCDL release argues, saying that ordinances like Winchester’s across Virginia create a patchwork of gun laws that make it difficult for gun owners to travel.

One of the arguments says that a provision in the ordinance allows the use of metal detectors at parks or permitted events, a violation of the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.

“Due to the ordinance’s enactment by Winchester City Council and its enforcement by Chief of Police Piper, Plaintiffs are threatened with criminal prosecution and imprisonment for exercising their constitutional rights,” the complaint states.

The lawsuit is similar to one filed against the County of Fairfax, announced by the NRA in January.

Speaking of the Fairfax lawsuit, NRA spokeswoman Amy Hunter said in a press release, “The bottom line is that Fairfax County is placing the burden of their laws on law-abiding residents and not on criminals.”

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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and the Star News Digital Network.  Email tips to [email protected]

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