The ACLU of Virginia sent a letter to Capitol Police today about banning guns at demonstration. "On Monday, January 20th, multiple groups plan to converge on Capitol Square to advocate for gun rights and gun reforms, among other causes," stated the letter. "Recent reports indicate that many of those attending may be planning to carry firearms openly or concealed while on Capitol grounds or in the Pocahontas Building or the Capitol."

"All people have a right to petition the government and to do so in collective activity protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Article 1, Section 12 of the Constitution of Virginia. At the same time, however, the government has the right, indeed the duty, to take action to protect public safety so long as its actions are reasonable, based on evidence, and not based on the view point of the people involved. As we have said previously, the ACLU-VA believes that, using neutral criteria and appropriate procedures, the state may implement a policy barring weapons at events and demonstrations on state property, including Capitol Square, without violating the First or Second Amendment rights of participants. There is no constitutional prohibition against barring weapons at such events held on Capitol Square grounds. Because the demonstrations are on state property, there is nothing in the law that prevents you from creating a secure noweapons zone, thereby barring those who attend Monday’s demonstrations from bringing guns or other weapons to scheduled events."

[...] the ACLU-VA believes that the governor, Capitol Police, and Virginia State Police are well within their existing statutory and constitutional authority to prohibit people participating in demonstrations on state property, including Capitol Square grounds, from carrying weapons. We welcome an opportunity to consult with you during your planning for the upcoming events. Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter."

You can read the full letter below.

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