- Virginia Governor Richard Northam has made gun restrictions a top priority for 2020
- Democrats will have control of the legislative agenda since 1993
- An early legislation draft from Senate majority leader Dick Saslaw caused backlash after possessing an “assault weapon” would have been made a felony
- Democratic Representative A. Donald McEachin suggested the National Guard may need to be used to enforce laws if law enforcement refuse
- Democrats have abandoned the idea of taking peoples weapons and instead plan to right a grandfather clause allowing the possession of certain weapons already purchased
- Virginia has seen a large growth of Second Amendment sanctuary towns, cities, and counties
- Tazewell County passed two resolutions making the county a sanctuary and allowing a legal militia to prevent the enforcement of unjust laws
Last week Virginia Governor Richard Northam warned Second Amendment sanctuaries throughout the state they could face consequences as the state pushes back against some of the more extreme measures stemming from his vow to pass stronger gun-control laws.
Second Amendment Sanctuary
Cities, towns, and counties in Virginia have chosen not to enforce possible state gun laws they deem unconstitutional. As of Monday, sanctuaries claimed 93 jurisdictions which cover roughly 40% of the state’s population. Democratic leaders are feeling the pushback and have already abandoned some of their proposed ideas.
Northam has said once the Democrats have control of the state legislature at the start of the new year passing new gun control laws will become a top priority. In response to the Virginia Beach shooting, in June Northam summoned the Republican-controlled Virginia General Assembly to consider “common-sense public safety laws.”
The proposed gun laws included universal background checks, bans on assault-style weapons and bump stocks, requirements to report lost or stolen firearms and expanded authority for local municipalities to regulate firearms. By Northam’s request, the General Assembly met for less than two hours in July and adjourned without considering a single piece of legislation.
Now that Democrats have seized control of both chambers of Virginia’s General Assembly it appears Northam believes it is a good time to move forward with his gun control agenda. This is the first time Democrats have had control of the legislative agenda since 1993. Even with Democratic leadership coming in, the people of Virginia appear to be disagreeing with some of Northam’s proposals.
The Grandfather Clause For Assault Weapons
Northam and Senate majority leader Dick Saslaw already abandoned their plan to ban the possession of “assault weapons.” Instead, a grandfather clause has been created allowing Virginians to keep the firearms they already own. Banning the sale of “military-style” weapons that have become common in mass shootings was the foundation of the gun-control agenda Virginia Democrats ran on this year.
Democrats in the area had not given a clear example of how they would be dealing with assault weapons already legally purchased and in circulation. An early draft of legislation from Saslaw would have made it a felony to possess a pistol, rifle, or shotgun that fell under the broader redefined category of “assault weapon.” While gun restrictions such as red flag laws and the reinstatement of a one-handgun-a-month law received support, the ban on particular firearms has been met with strong opposition.
Virginia National Guard Responds
Things got worse after Democratic Representative A. Donald McEachin suggested Northam “may have to nationalize the National Guard to enforce the law.” McEachin’s comment came after Northam suggested law enforcement officers who do not enforce stricter gun policies are going to face “consequences.”
If we have constitutional laws on the books and law enforcement officers are not enforcing those laws on the books, then there are going to be some consequences.Governor Ralph Northam Via WSET
Northam has said there will be no retaliation against the counties making resolutions against the upcoming gun measures. The governor has repeatedly noted that none of his proposed gun control measures include taking away people’s guns. The National Guard released a response to McEachin’s suggestion of using them to enforce the law. “We will not speculate about the possible use of the Virginia National Guard,” the first of a series of tweets from the Virginia National Guard read.
We understand and respect the passion people feel for the U.S. Constitution and 2nd Amendment rights. We will not speculate about the possible use of the Virginia National Guard.— Va. National Guard (@VaNationalGuard) December 13, 2019
We have received multiple questions regarding proposed legislation for the 2020 General Assembly session and the authority of the Governor of Virginia to employ the Virginia National Guard in a law enforcement role. We understand and respect the passion people feel for the U.S. Constitution and 2nd Amendment rights. We will not speculate about the possible use of the Virginia National Guard. I encourage everyone to be patient while we allow our elected officials to work through the legislative process. We have not received any requests from the Governor, or anyone on his staff, about serving in a law enforcement role related to any proposed legislation. I expect our Soldiers, Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force to be professional and respectful in their discussions about this subject. As private citizens, our personnel are free to express their opinions to their elected officials, but they should not engage in any political activity while in a uniformed status. We will provide regular updates when appropriate during the General Assembly session. Please utilize your chain of command to direct any questions or concerns to my office, and we will do our best to address them.Virginia National Guard Via Twitter
Tazewell County Allows A Legal Militia
The threat of Democrats retaliating against those who choose not to enforce new gun control laws has led to Tazewell County taking measures against that possibility. On December 10, the Board of Supervisors from Tazewell County passed two resolutions. The first declared the county a second amendment sanctuary. The second resolution proposed establishing a legal militia that would act as protection for law enforcement in the area that refuses to enforce unjust laws.
The first resolution would remove any funding for law enforcement in Tazewell County if they infringed on a resident’s gun rights. On the other side of that protection, the state could cut funding to other areas of the county or even force public officials out of their held offices. County Administrator Eric Young said these fears are why they opted for the second resolution well. The second resolution being a legal militia.
“Our position is that Article I, Section 13, of the Constitution of Virginia reserves the right to ‘order’ militia to the localities,” Young said. “Therefore, counties, not the state, determine what types of arms may be carried in their territory and by whom. So, we are ‘ordering’ the militia by making sure everyone can own a weapon.”
This means if anybody from the state attempted to remove the sheriff from his elected office for not enforcing unjust laws, state officials will be greeted by a lawful militia. Tazewell County is taking its militia very seriously, as the resolution calls for concealed weapon training for any resident of the county that can lawfully own a gun.