Stafford County, Virginia has added itself to the long list of counties in Virginia that identify themselves as “Second Amendment sanctuaries”. This comes after a series of laws were proposed by the state government that limit the rights of gun owners. Their is strong support on both sides and the battle lines are drawn. What does this all mean?
What Started This?
In November of 2019 Democrats gained control of the state house and senate during biannual elections. The governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, is also a Democrat, so the Democratic Party has taken over the state. The day after the election, Governor Northam announced that he and his colleagues would be pursuing a swath of gun control regulation.
Many new anti-gun laws were proposed. The most egregious ban certain firearms and gear including “assault rifles”, bump stocks, “high-capacity” magazines, and suppressors. As usual, the definition of the term “assault rifle” is unclear, considering that automatic weapons have banned since the Reagan administration. A requirement background checks on every firearm purchase was also proposed. A limit was proposed on purchasing more than one handgun within a month. There were other bills proposed, but those were the worst for gun rights.
Second Amendment Sanctuaries
As mentioned, the local government in Stafford County came together and voted to become a Second Amendment sanctuary. Along with Stafford County, 90 other Virginia counties that have declared themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries. This means than 91 out of 95 counties have made the move. Separately, 56 Virginia cities have declared themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries as well.
These counties and cities are declaring that they will not enforce any legislation enacted at the state or federal level that they deem unconstitutional. It is a bold effort to draw a line in the sand and assert the rights of their citizens. While laws are made at the federal and state levels, they are generally enforced by police officers within their local jurisdictions. If local police forces do not devote time, resources, or effort into enforcement, then in practice they are moot. These local law enforcement agencies are technically not violating the law in this way.
Second Amendment Sanctuaries
The problem with sanctuary resolutions is that they cannot actually change the law. If the state government passes gun control, the citizens within these counties are still breaking the law by not complying. Declaring sanctuary status is an important step toward protecting rights and may keep citizens of these jurisdictions free from penalties but is not a final solution. Citizens may still be “caught”. If an individual brazenly breaks the law, police may feel obligated to enforce the law.
This is not a solution on a broader scale, either. Non-enforcement just kicks the can down the road. This does not mean that there is no other way to push back. This infographic with detailed facts and figures shows that gun control can successfully be defeated long term, as it has in the past.
Along with the Second Amendment Sanctuary movement, thousands of Virginians have been marching in the streets this past year to protest the new laws. Virginians are making it clear that they oppose the new gun control laws.
What else . . .
Protests and Second Amendment Sanctuaries are more “last stands” against regulation than long-term solutions. Organizations like the Virginia Citizen’s Defense League are doing all they can to protect the rights of Virginia’s citizens.
One way to help the fight is to spread awareness about the truth of firearms. Many who oppose Second Amendment rights have very limited experience with firearms. Their perceptions of AR-15s and similar rifles comes from what they see in the news and in fiction. When someone’s only association with something is with war and aggression, an irrational fear can form. Introducing people to firearms in reality and getting them hands on experience can be a great move. Gun rights are meant to protect everyone, and all Americans benefit by retaining their rights.
During 2020, a lot of Americans have purchased firearms for the first time. Roughly 5 million Americans purchased their first firearm this year. Fears about the coronavirus and a growing sense of instability in our country may be leading many to reconsider their attitudes toward the Second Amendment.
Second Amendment rights should be respected regardless of periodic crises. Spreading the truth about guns and gun rights and debunking the myths of the dangers of firearms remains the very best way forward.
—Jay Chambers is a Texas archer, shooter, survivalist and business owner at Minuteman Review. He believes in free speech, resiliency and self-sufficiency in an increasingly unpredictable world.