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VA AG blocks 25,000-attendee gun show: ‘Selling guns is just not worth it’

Gun Show (M&R Glasgow/Flickr)
November 20, 2020

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said he blocked a “massive” gun show in Chantilly from running at full capacity, tweeting that “selling guns is just not worth it” in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Set to begin Friday at the Dulles Expo Center, the Nation’s Gun Show was canceled after a judge ruled against the event organizers’ attempt to get around Virginia’s harsh COVID-19 restrictions on Thursday, WTOP reported. The new constraints implemented this week required the gun show to limit capacity to 250 people – the event was expected to draw close to 25,000 people.

Following the hearing, Herring tweeted, “I have successfully BLOCKED a massive fun show from operating at full capacity this weekend in NOVA. Putting hundreds or even thousands of Virginians at risk for the sole purpose of selling guns is just not worth it and I’m pleased that the Judge agreed with me.”

Herring had argued in favor of the restrictions, asserting that the gun show organizers are “brazenly misinformed” on the danger of the coronavirus.

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“The ongoing pandemic has infected more than 200,000 Virginians since March and has killed nearly 4,000 — more than four times the number of automobile fatalities that occurred in all of 2019,” Herring said in a brief.

One gun-show promoter, firearms dealer and probable gun-show attendee requested an injunction against the limitations, claiming the orders should be based on physical distancing rather than the number of attendees.

Organizers said the limitations would infringe on gun-owners’ rights and would cause the vendor to lose around $70,000 in revenue.

According to the show’s website, organizers argued in court that they were “given the all-clear from Fairfax County Health Department, who reasonably listened to our arguments from Monday and Tuesday, then called back to say we could operate as a brick-and-mortar retail establishment.”

Lawyer David Brown said the gun show should be given the same consideration as a brick-and-mortar retail business “just like the Walmart next door” to the expo center, which was the decision made by local health officials.

Despite the organizers’ pleas, Judge Brett Kassabian rejected their arguments at Thursday morning’s hearing.

Kassabian was reportedly sympathetic to the financial loss the show’s organizers and vendors would take, but said, “To allow thousands of people to roam unchecked in the throes of the worst pandemic in 100 years is not in the public interest.”

The Virginia Department of Health website shows that as of November 20, of the 213,331 cases of COVID-19 in Virginia, 13,914 have been hospitalized and 3,912 deaths have been associate with the virus. The population of Virginia is 8.5 million.

“We fought back and went to court at great expense and lost. We respectfully disagree with the judge’s opinion,” the show’s website stated. “We are very sorry for the incredible financial burden and terrible inconvenience this is inflicting on all involved.”