DULLES, Va. — A gun show scheduled to be held at the Dulles Expo Center from Nov. 20-22 has been canceled, after show organizers lost a lawsuit attempting to bypass new COVID restrictions in Virginia. Judge Kassabian ruled that the indoor gun show, which at full capacity could host 25,000 attendees, was not "in the public interest."
"I find that it is in the private interest of the plaintiffs," Kassabian said. "To allow thousands to roam unchecked during the middle of the most serious health crisis this county has suffered in the past one hundred years is not in the public interest."
Shortly after Kassabian issued his ruling, the Nation's Gun Show announced the cancellation of the event on its website.
"Yesterday morning we were given then 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," a statement on their website said. "Then much later that day the Governor and the Virginia Attorney General stepped in to close all the similar venues in the state of Virginia as well as ours inflicting incredible hardships in the entire state. We fought back and went to court at great expense and lost. We respectfully disagree with the judge’s opinion."
Showmaster's Inc, the organizers of The Nation's Gun Show, filed a lawsuit against Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam after he introduced new restrictions that went into effect Monday restricting entertainment venues from hosting more than 250 people at a time. The emergency injunction made the claim that the gun show should be considered a "brick and mortar retail business" and thus not subject to the same capacity restrictions. It also estimated that vendors stood to lose $70,000 if limited to a 250-person capacity.
Virginia's Attorney General Mark Herring filed a reply brief in response to the lawsuit filed in Fairfax Circuit Court, calling the event a potential "superspreader."
“This enormous gun show could have very quickly become a superspreader event and this win will help keep hundreds if not thousands of Virginians safe and healthy,” Herring said. “I’m pleased that the judge agreed that putting thousands of Virginians at risk for contracting COVID just so people could buy and sell guns at a gun show was not worth it and could have led to disastrous consequences."
Showmaster's, Inc. expressed frustrations that these new restrictions from Northam came only a week before their event started.
"The show takes months to put together and it is too late a notice for most of these businesses to recoup their losses. It will cause irreparable damage to all involved from the building, auxiliary businesses, the exhibitors, the promoter, the hotel, convenience stores, restaurants, and the strip mall," Showmasters, Inc. said in a statement on its website about the lawsuit filed.
Event organizers have started a Gofundme to contribute to their legal fees, which they estimate to be $35,000. At the time of publication, $884 had been raised.