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Va. Group Questioning Executive Ban on Guns at Some State Agencies

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File Image: Notice prohibiting firearms at the Patrick Henry Building in Richmond File Image: Notice prohibiting firearms at the Patrick Henry Building in Richmond
Virginia Citizens Defense League President Philip Van Cleave Virginia Citizens Defense League President Philip Van Cleave
RICHMOND, Va. (WVIR) -

Gun rights activists in Virginia are questioning the legal strength of Governor McAuliffe’s ban on firearms in some state agencies.

Last October, McAuliffe signed Executive Order 50, which put in place new regulation dealing with firearms.

That order banned the public from open and concealed carry of guns in executive branch state agencies, including DMV locations and ABC stores. The order does not apply to law enforcement.

Virginia Citizens Defense League President, Philip Van Cleave, says he researched the issue following the governor's announcement.

Ultimately, Van Cleave and the governor's office confirmed Friday for those who disregard the firearms ban, they're at risk of trespassing, but not a gun crime.

"I just felt people should know that. They can make up their own decisions but you're not being a criminal you can decide for yourself what you want to do," said Van Cleave.

Brian Coy, the governor’s spokesperson, affirmed the order is a policy and if a gun owner is asked to leave at one of these locations, the punishment would be trespassing.

"If you enter a facility that's under the purview of this order, you'll be asked to leave or you'll deny entry. If you're respectful, that should be the end of the story," said Coy.

The Republican-controlled General Assembly passed a bill this year that would have undone the governor's order; however, McAuliffe vetoed that measure.

"I think that this is the governor kind of using his bully pulpit to be a bully. Law-abiding gun owners are the ones who have the concealed carry permits anyway. That's 400,000 Virginians and they manage to go in and out of ABC stores and DMVs across Virginia for the last 50 years without any incident," said 22nd District Senator Tom Garrett Jr. (R).

Van Cleave says one of his ongoing concerns is that common criminals or terrorists now know firearms are restricted at these sites, and one could become a target.