Lynchburg gun range can reopen as court grants temporary injunction

SafeSide Lynchburg still needs to practice social distancing.

LYNCHBURG, Va. – A Lynchburg gun range can open immediately, despite Gov. Ralph Northam’s executive order closing ranges across the commonwealth.

That’s according to a temporary injunction granted in Lynchburg Circuit Court.

Judge F. Patrick Yeatts granted the order on Monday after reviewing the lawsuit on Friday.

Co-owner, Mitchell Tyler, tells 10 News the new order only applies to Safeside Lynchburg because it’s the only store named on the complaint.

Tyler says he wants to work with other indoor range owners who want to file a suit in their localities and possibly see the same success.

The order does require that SafeSide Lynchburg practices social distancing and sanitizing guidance.

Tyler, said the indoor range has a ventilation system to help scrub germs in the air, they clean the building all the time and have ceiling to floor barriers that will keep people apart.

“It’d be nice to have some revenue generated back up on the range because it’s just sitting there, and it’s been ready this whole time for the lawful gun owners of Virginia to come in. We just needed this judge to do what he did today,” Tyler said.

Executive Order 53, explicitly listed indoor shooting ranges among “recreational and entertainment businesses" that would have to remain closed. Originally Order 53 was originally set to expire at 11:59 p.m. on April 23; however, the governor later extended those closures to May 8.

Tyler believes the judge ruled in their favor because they showed the economic hardship the indoor range closure had on his employers as well as the impact it left on hundreds of new firearm owners who had nowhere to go to safely practice.

Tyler tells 10 News that SafeSide Lynchburg plans to open on Wednesday, not allowing no more than 10 people in the bays and customers will have to reserve their spots online.

“There’s no other way for us to maintain the body counts that are basically required by the governor by social distancing standards and practices. So, we’re working with the web team right now so you can go in reserve your lane for up to an hour," Tyler said.

This injunction comes as part of the lawsuit that Citizens Defense League, Gun Owners of America, SafeSide Lynchburg and the Association of Virginia Gun Ranges filed against Gov. Ralph Northam.

Northam said in an afternoon press conference the Commonwealth will look at its options should more businesses try to do what Safeside Lynchburg did.

“While I respect the decision of our judicial system, we will look at our options as we move forward. My goal is certainly for all of Virginia and all businesses is to certainly put this health crisis behind us,” Northam said.

Attorney General Mark Herring said in a statement:

“Governor Northam’s efforts to save lives and slow the spread of COVID-19 are necessary and proving to be effective, but unfortunately, the gun lobby believes the ability to shoot a gun indoors during this pandemic is worth risking further spread of the virus and making Virginia communities and families less safe.”

Read the full opinion letter from Yeatts below: