Gun Ban Suit

A group of plaintiffs that includes a few Winchester business owners is suing the city over its ban on carrying guns at some outdoor public places and events.

WINCHESTER — The city ban on carrying guns at some public places and events is targeted in a lawsuit.

The suit asserts the ban criminalizes the plaintiffs’ state constitutional right to carry guns and endangers them. The suit doesn’t challenge banning guns at government buildings, but focuses on outdoor settings.

“In public streets and parks, plaintiff’s best defense against a potential threat is to possess firearms, and to be personally responsible for their own defense,” attorney Gilbert Ambler of Winchester wrote in the lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Winchester Circuit Court. “Indeed, the right to bear arms is closely tied to the right of self-protection.”

In a party-line vote in January, the Democratically-controlled Virginia legislature approved a law allowing local governments to ban guns at government buildings and government-run public places such as parks. About 100 of 120 people who commented in person or in emails or voicemails when Winchester proposed the ban expressed opposition to it. Nonetheless, the Democratically-controlled City Council on Feb. 9 approved the ban in a 7-2 party-line vote.

Ammunition and guns are now prohibited at all Winchester government buildings including Rouss City Hall, the Creamery Building and the War Memorial Building in Jim Barnett Park. The ban also applies to city parks and certain public rights-of-way connected to city-permitted events including the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival.

The suit was filed on behalf of an open-carry advocate, two Winchester business owners, a city gun store, a Winchester resident who likes to carry a gun in city parks for protection, and four gun rights groups. The plaintiffs are:

Brandon Angel, a Kearneysville, West Virginia, resident and advocate of openly carrying guns in public. Virginia is one of 31 states that allow open carry, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, although the state has some restrictions on openly carrying in public places. In the lawsuit, Angel said he may want to hold a pro-gun rally in Winchester at which he would openly carry. He said he is being “irreparably harmed” by the ban.

Gun Owners of America Inc., a Springfield-based gun rights group that says it has over 2 million members. Its website says the nonprofit group is considered the “no compromise” gun lobbying group.

Gun Owners Foundation, a group that provides gun education and legal support to law-abiding gun owners involved in shootings or other gun-related incidents.

Shannon Nuckols, owner of Mac Shack Express, a food truck that operates in Winchester. Nuckols is a concealed pistol permit holder who said she has previously worked at city festivals. Nuckols said she has been a robbery victim. She said she is vulnerable because she often carries large sums of cash from business sales and is one of the last people to leave festivals when few people are around. “I desire to carry a firearm with me in my food truck while I work to defend myself and my customers,” she said.

Mark B. Stickley, owner of Runners Retreat at 135 N. Loudoun St. on the Loudoun Street Mall. Stickley, who has a concealed carry pistol permit, said he fears arrest if he carries his gun to and from work near a city event where guns are banned.

Stonewall Arms, a gun store at 2426 Valley Ave. Andrew John “A.J.” Williams, store general manager, said he regularly carries ammo and guns through Winchester for business purposes and fears arrest if he carries near a city event.

U.S. Law Shield of Virginia, the state branch of a Houston, Texas-based for-profit company that legally defends law-abiding gun owners involved in shootings and other gun incidents.

Virginia Citizens Defense League, a nonprofit gun rights group that says it has tens of thousands of state members.

Loren Wilkerson, a city resident, mother of three and pistol permit holder, who said she regularly carried a concealed gun for self defense in city parks, park buildings and when shopping in the city before the ban. Wilkerson said a gun is “the best tool with which I can defend myself and my loved ones.”

The suit names the city and Winchester Police Chief John R. Piper. Because it involves pending litigation, Piper on Thursday said he wouldn’t comment on the suit. Regarding the ban, he wouldn’t comment on whether metal detectors or signage will be used to prevent guns from being carried into events because the events haven’t occurred yet.

However, Ambler wrote in the suit that metal detectors are likely to be used and asserted their use constitutes an “unreasonable search and is therefore grievous and oppressive.” Unreasonable searches are a violation of the Fourth Amendment as well as the Virginia constitution, but Ambler said in an interview that the suit is only about purported violations of the plaintiffs’ state constitutional rights.

The lawsuit said the state legislature’s approval of gun bans has resulted in a confusing patchwork of laws around Virginia. “Many visitors to Winchester will be caught unaware, making their visit to the city a risky proposition,” Ambler wrote.

Besides saying the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights were being violated, Ambler also invoked religion in the suit.

“The protection of the right to keep and bear arms is not a government-bestowed right enshrined in an outdated document, but rather the commonwealth’s recognition of a pre-existing right with which Virginians were endowed by their Creator, and operates as a fixed limitation on the power of state or local government to enact legislation affecting firearms,” Ambler wrote. “The city of Winchester has restricted possession of firearms in areas where self-protection, the most basic protection ensured by the right to keep and bear arms, is most needed.”

— Contact Evan Goodenow at egoodenow@winchesterstar.com

(25) comments

BryanLNuri

So when this "well-regulated militia" is formed, you'll let us know, right?

shinyhappypeople

‘“The protection of the right to keep and bear arms is not a government-bestowed right enshrined in an outdated document, but rather the commonwealth’s recognition of a pre-existing right with which Virginians were endowed by their Creator, and operates as a fixed limitation on the power of state or local government to enact legislation affecting firearms,” Ambler wrote. “‘

I have now heard it all. What a laughable defense. What would Jesus do, you ask? Well he’d pull out an uzi and mow down anyone in his way, apparently. I’m trying to stay “nice”, but this is moronic.

dstryker

Ok, so their entire argument is about their safety concerns? Besides the irony and hypocrisy of that, it's the opposite of safe for the carrier.

How many “good guy with a gun” civilians have stopped a mass shooting in the history of the United States of America? 0. Not once has that ever happened here. However, there are multiple examples of times when civilians with guns in active shooter situations have got themselves or others injured or killed. The police also say not do it. When they show up to a shooting situation and two people are both holding guns firing at each other, you’ve got a situation that puts everyone there at risk and takes up the time and attention of the actual professionals. How many lives have to end for these common-sense gun laws finally exist? All the facts prove civilians with guns don’t make anyone safer. All the facts prove civilians with guns do make everyone less safe. So, can they at least drop the false premise of wanting to be safe? At least admit they don’t care about safety at all, and that they think their “right” to put themselves in danger matters more than others lives and should be done at the expense of the lives, safety, and comfort of everyone around them. You aren’t safer, I’m not safer, no one is safer. You are less safe, I am less safe, everyone is less safe.

“39,000 Americans die from gun violence every year—an average of 100 per day”

“America has the weakest gun laws and the most guns—393 million—of any comparable nation.”

“The US accounts for just 4% of the world’s population but 35% of global firearm suicides.”

“Americans are 25 times more likely to be killed in a gun homicide than people in other high-income countries.”

“Nearly every American will know at least one victim of gun violence in their lifetime.”

“Over 1 million Americans have been shot in the past decade, and gun violence rates are rising across the country.”

“In 2017, gun deaths reached their highest level in at least 40 years, with 39,773 deaths that year alone.”

“Women in the United States are 21 times more likely to be killed with a gun than women in other high-income countries.”

“On average, someone is killed with a gun every 9 hours in Virginia.”

Virginia:

1019 gun deaths per year

33rd highest gun death rate

11.7 gun deaths per 100k residents

"people who carried guns were 4.5 times as likely to be shot and 4.2 times as likely to get killed compared with unarmed citizens."

https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn17922-carrying-a-gun-increases-risk-of-getting-shot-and-killed/

https://www.chicagotribune.com/opinion/commentary/ct-perspec-concealed-carry-gun-self-defense-risks-20190114-story.html

https://www.salon.com/2015/02/24/“where_there_are_more_guns_more_women_die”_a_harvard_public_health_expert_breaks_down_the_data_on_firearms_and_womens_safety/

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/more-guns-do-not-stop-more-crimes-evidence-shows/

https://lawcenter.giffords.org/facts/gun-violence-statistics/

https://www.thetrace.org/2016/05/gun-ownership-makes-women-safer-debunked/

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/23/dana-loesch-women-gun-reform-rapists

https://www.businessinsider.com/things-linked-to-more-gun-violence-science-2019-8#another-factor-with-a-strong-link-to-more-gun-violence-is-access-to-guns-6

https://www.businessinsider.com/things-linked-to-more-gun-violence-science-2019-8#there-have-been-255-mass-shootings-in-the-us-in-2019-and-8936-people-have-died-from-gun-violence-according-to-the-gun-violence-archive-14

https://slate.com/technology/2015/01/good-guy-with-a-gun-myth-guns-increase-the-risk-of-homicide-accidents-suicide.html

https://giffords.org/lawcenter/gun-violence-statistics/

Don Specht

It's fun reading how all the anonymous posters feel about things.

Or not.

Chupacabra

Don, you used to be anonymous yourself years ago, so your statement today as a retired person with no job to get fired from for your viewpoints holds no water.

bigjohn

“No mass shooting has ever been stopped by a good-guy with a gun.”

You really can’t see how fallacious this argument is, can you? A mass shooting stopped by a good guy with a gun, isn’t as a “mass shooting.” This passed for “logic, reason and educated thinking” in the 21st Century United States of America. SMH.

Chupacabra

If a person has a CCP, you're not going to know they are carrying until it becomes necessary. If a criminal is carrying, you'll know.

cuphaus

So keeping and bearing arms is a right bestowed by God and not just the Constitutions? I'd like to see a Biblical source for that.

bigjohn

"he that hath no sword, let him sell his cloak, and buy one.” Luke 22:36.

Get a clue.

dstryker

You know you can by a sword, right? Like, these laws have nothing to do with swords. You're free to carry a sword. This is about guns. Guns and swords are different things. Just like how common sense gun regulations don't limit your right to mix fabrics.

bigjohn

You’re an idiot. Had they had guns, it would have said “gun.” Swords were military weapons at the time. Keep making the same specious and infantile arguments. keep digging.

BryanLNuri

The problem they have is that swords require discipline and training to wield effectively. While guns require the same effort, they are easier to just pick up and use. They don't want to put the time in to really learn how to defend themselves.

john brown

And the gun fetish/craziness continues .... this is one sick nation. When did everyone get so afraid of everyone ... oh yeah, faux news.

Doc Samson

Cray-cray knows it's own, don't it jb? [lol]

john brown

you would know "doc"

bigjohn

The RKBA is not a fetish nor is it crazy. It’s a natural right YOU wouldn’t deny the lowest of animals. Who, watching the gazelle turn to face the pursuing lion, would deny the gazelle its horns? Drop your infantile, irrational, propagandized fear of an inanimate tool. You don’t hesitate for a second to risk your life in a car, using a tool far more likely to kill you.

Doc Samson

@bigjohn - "Drop your infantile, irrational, propagandized fear of an inanimate tool."

They can't because that's all they have. Facts really don't matter when they are completely ruled by emotion...

Doc Samson

Excellent! Glad to know someone still understands that all rights are equal and that more unenforceable laws, that only impact good people, does nothing to stop criminals. "Common sense" to those of us capable of rational thought...

dstryker

That's why all laws shouldn't exist. Making murder illegal has never stopped anyone from committing murder. Speed limits are useless, no one would follow posted traffic laws if they don't want to, so why enforce it? Drugs, who cares? No one has ever refused drugs because they were illegal. If we stopped having any drug laws, there would be no more drug users at all, not a single one. Laws don't work, ever. It's useless to have them. Common sense is clear here, anarchy.

Doc Samson

Your hyperbole is amusing. Your ignorance of the Constitution, less so...

TonyR

Having a Gun Fetish is loving your guns more than life itself. Loving them so much you believe they are the only thing standing between the world and 100% totalitarianism.

SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.

Doc Samson

@TonyR - A firearm is the great "equalizer" for women, elderly, and many minorities. Aren't you all about the "equity"? Guess not.

dstryker

But, those are all groups at significantly more risk because of guns? While they put everyone in danger, women, elderly, and minority groups are all at far more risk than other groups. At risk of attack, death, and especially for women, an increased risk of rape and sexual assault. Plus, gun control laws apply to people. All people. As in, equally enforceable for everyone.

Doc Samson

" gun control laws apply to people. All people. As in, equally enforceable for everyone"

Yeah, your blue cities might have a word to say about all that... but don't worry, you are free to ignore and spout your Leftist narrative at will. Carry on, sir (or ma'am)!

Old Western Man

Obvious infringements, though the other than than honorable Supreme Court of Virginia has recently demonstrated a propensity for judicial activism bordering the absurd. Best of luck plaintiffs!

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