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VA sheriff says he’d ‘deputize thousands’ of citizens to exclude them from state gun bans

People at a gun range. (MaxPixel/Released)
December 06, 2019

Sheriff Scott Jenkins of Culpeper County, Va. proposed a way to exempt citizens from newly proposed Virginia gun laws that might otherwise bar them from owning certain firearms.

In a Wednesday Facebook post, Jenkins warned that some of the gun laws proposed in the Virginia General Assembly would “disarm or handicap our law-abiding in their defense,” and in turn suggested he would confer the label of deputy on thousands of law-abiding citizens to include them in law enforcement carve-outs included in new gun legislation.

“I remain very optimistic that our General Assembly will not pass the proposed bills. Obviously, if passed, there are many of us willing to challenge these laws through the courts,” Jenkins said. “In addition, if necessary, I plan to properly screen and deputize thousands of our law-abiding citizens to protect their constitutional right to own firearms.”

Jenkins warned, “Every Sheriff and Commonwealth Attorney in Virginia will see the consequences if our General Assembly passes further unnecessary gun restrictions.”

He also criticized extreme risk protective orders, known as “Red Flag” laws, which authorize police to confiscate firearms from people deemed to show a risk of harm to themselves or others but who have otherwise committed no crime.

The concern about new gun restrictions comes amid Democratic party victories throughout Virginia, granting them control of the Virginia legislature and strengthening Virginia’s Democratic Governor Ralph North, who has suggested support for new gun laws. Lawmakers have already prepared several gun control bills for the 2020 legislature, including one bill that would ban many popular firearms like AR-15s and even shotguns with a magazine capacity greater than seven rounds.

As of Tuesday, a total of 30 Virginia counties and towns had already passed resolutions to become “Second Amendment Sanctuaries.” By Wednesday, the number of sanctuary jurisdictions had grown to 41, according to NBC 10 News.

Jenkins’ Facebook post appeared to thank the Culpeper Board of Supervisors for its own Tuesday decision to undertake the sanctuary status.

Jenkins appeared for the Culpeper Board of Supervisors’ Tuesday meeting, where he first proposed the idea of deputizing law-abiding gun owners, according to the Culpeper Star Exponent.

“There’s no limit to the number of people I can swear in,” Jenkins said.

The “sanctuary” classifications brought up in various Virginia jurisdictions are not legally binding, and are only meant to express an interest in focusing law enforcement resources elsewhere. Jenkins’ proposal may provide an additional protection to firearm ownership that a sanctuary status alone cannot.