Judge cancels Fairfax County gun show due to COVID risk
25,000 people were expected to attend Dulles Expo Center event
A large gun show scheduled this weekend at the Dulles Expo Center that could have drawn an estimated crowd of 25,000 people will not take place, a Fairfax County circuit court judge ruled Thursday morning.
The Nation’s Gun Show was scheduled for Nov. 20-22, and the gun show’s promoter, Showmasters Inc., along with a firearm dealer and potential attendee, filed a lawsuit against Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and State Health Commissioner Dr. Norm Oliver, requesting an emergency injunction that would allow the show to take place despite Northam’s executive orders to limit large gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Brett A. Kassabian declined the injunction, saying that the right to purchase firearms is not limited by the cancellation of the event and that if the show were to take place, it could cause further spread of the coronavirus. Kassabian noted that the “sinister” asymptomatic nature of COVID-19 can cause a person to “unwittingly” pass on the virus to others. “Six hundred people in Fairfax County alone have met their maker as a result,” the judge added.
Attorney General Mark Herring’s office defended the state, arguing in a brief that in recent weeks there has been “a dangerous surge in COVID-19 cases in the commonwealth,” and that more than 200,000 Virginians have been infected since March, with nearly 4,000 Virginians dead from the disease.
The plaintiffs — show organizer Showmasters Inc., Richmond-based gun dealer Sonny’s Guns and Transfers and Ashburn resident John Crump, the state director of Gun Owners of America Inc. — argued that the show, which would have brought firearm dealers from around the country to Fairfax, constitutes a brick and mortar retail business, which is not subject to attendance limits under Northam’s revised Executive Order 67, which went into effect Monday.