On Monday, seven more Virginia counties voted to become “Second Amendment sanctuaries,” making a total of 27 counties and three towns that have now adopted the stance to avoid enforcing potential new gun laws in the state.
The trend of cities, towns and counties voting to grant sanctuary against gun laws follows the recent Democratic state election victories in which the party won control of the state legislature. According to ABC13 News, Virginia’s Democratic Governor Ralph Northam has already voiced support for plans to pass stricter gun laws in the state.
Northam’s plans reportedly include universal background checks. His interest in new gun laws appears to be matched by Democratic lawmakers, bolstered by the party’s November election wins. The Democratic party will
Just weeks after the elections, Virginia state Sen. Richard Saslaw introduced several new gun bills, including SB16, which would ban numerous semi-automatic pistols and rifles, implement magazine capacity rules for firearms, including shotguns and would not exempt people who already own those weapons.
The localities now adopting or considering sanctuary policies for firearms owners appears to be a backlash to the proposed legislation that would further restrict gun rights.
The resolutions establishing the sanctuary status are not legally binding, but are meant to express a locality’s interest in having law enforcement use public funds on law enforcement matters other than enforcing new gun restrictions.
The concept of a Second Amendment sanctuary is not new with Virginia. Numerous towns, cities and counties have adopted or considered the status in opposition to state level laws and preferences towards greater gun control policies.
In November, a Wisconsin county adopted the sanctuary status in response to “Red Flag” laws favored by Democratic Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers. The “Red Flag” laws are extreme risk protective orders that authorize law enforcement officers to seize firearms from owners believed to exhibit a risk to themselves and others but who may not have committed any criminal acts.
Another 62 Virginia towns, cities and counties reportedly have the same sanctuary resolutions up for consideration in the near future. The City of Roanoke and Prince William County have already voted against adopting the sanctuary status against new gun laws.
According to The Roanoke Times, Roanoke Mayor Sherman Lea, who is part of the Democratic majority on the Roanoke City Council said she opposed the sanctuary status as unnecessary in the context of the guarantees under both the U.S. Constitution a Virginia constitutional clause similar in language to the Second Amendment.
“I see no need or benefit to any action by this city validating what the Constitution already guarantees,” Lea said of the sanctuary proposal.