A gun store in Arlington, Virginia, has filed suit against 64 people including lawmakers and residents for interfering with its business and harassing the owner (including sending a a death threat to the owner’s teenage daughter). Nova Armory opened up last month in the Washington, D.C., suburb despite the best efforts of anti-gun leftists, legislators and progressive neighbors.
The suit, filed last week in Richmond Circuit Court, named seven state legislators who appealed to the landlord, on official General Assembly stationery, to refuse to rent 2300 N. Pershing Dr. to Nova Armory. The lawsuit also named Arlington County Board member Christian Dorsey, School Board member Barbara Kanninen and multiple residents who have spoken out against the gun store.
Were these legislators abusing their power and trying to intimidate Nova Armory’s landlord by sending a letter on official stationary?
According to the company’s attorney, Daniel Hawes, the business tried to warn the accused about interfering with their business.
“People generally don’t like it if you try to destroy their business. That’s malicious behavior,” Hawes said.
Hawes also claimed that someone has been following customers and taking photos of their cars and license plates.
“There’s been all sorts of creepy stuff by people with a morbid obsession, a neurotic obsession, with firearms,” he said. “They are really dangerous people.”
The complaint says defamatory comments on social media, harassing phone calls and emails and a mailed death threat to 16-year-old Lauren Pratte forced the business to spend time and money “in merely surviving the crisis.” Pratte is the daughter of Dennis R. Pratte II, who described Nova Armory as a family-owned business. The lawsuit asks for $2.1 million in lost revenue and damages, an amount that can be tripled under law.
Delegate Mark Levine (D-Alexandria), who was named in the suit, says his actions were merely representing the views of his constituents — constituents in Alexandria, not Arlington. He called the suit “a very, very dangerous attack on the First Amendment, an absolute attack on people’s right to speak out.”
Is it a First Amendment issue to write a letter on official state stationary urging a landlord not to rent to a business selling because it sells “dangerous firearms“? I don’t think so.
Using typical lefty hysterical rhetoric, Levine explained, “Protests are as American as apple pie, as pro-American as civil rights protests, as boycotts of grapes. If this lawsuit succeeds, the Montgomery (Ala.) bus company ought to sue Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement for that boycott because they wanted to shut down that business.”
Because photographing customers’ license plates and sending a death threat to a teenager are exactly like the civil rights struggle.
The state of Virginia does not allow the local governments to ban or regulate firearms businesses if the businesses are in compliance with the zoning laws. And rightly so, as the gun store is selling a legal product. Why should the rules be different?