Following a wave of so-called “second-amendment sanctuary” resolutions by local governments in the state, Virginia’s Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam said this week that there would be “consequences” if state laws, including gun control laws, are ignored by local authorities.
Speaking to reporters, Northam said the results of November’s election prove that the state is ready for more strict gun control measures and sanctuary proponents “can continue to have their meetings. They can continue to make sanctuary counties, but we’re going to do what Virginians have asked us to do.”
In January 2020, Virginia will see Democrats in charge of both houses of the state legislature and the governor’s office for the first time in two decades. The majority will give Northam the chance to pursue a progressive legislative agenda, including passing new gun control measures such as curbs on military-style “assault weapons” and stricter background checks.
Before the new Democratic legislature has even started, however, cities across Virginia have been voicing their opposition to any gun control measures by adopting resolutions declaring themselves a “Second Amendment Constitutional Cities.” The movement borrows a turn of phrase from the sanctuary city movement pushed by progressives to protect illegal immigrants.
So far, more than 70 cities and counties in Virginia have adopted such resolutions. Chesapeake City, in South Hampton Roads, was one of the latest when it did so Tuesday evening.
This is the line outside Chesapeake City Hall tonight ahead of the 6:30 meeting. They’re here for the proposed resolution on making this city a ‘Second Amendment Sanctuary.’ #13NewsNow pic.twitter.com/FMqPRjJUlp— Madeline Schmitt 13News Now (@13MadelineS) December 10, 2019
An account of the meeting by the Virginian-Pilot said as many as 1,200 people attended the city council meeting at which the measure was adopted. Many, the paper said, had bright orange “Guns SAVE Lives” stickers on the shirts and some held flags bearing the words, “Don’t Tread on Me.”
The measure, promising not to use public funds to restrict gun rights, passed unanimously. Afterward, the crowd in the chamber erupted in cheers and a standing ovation.
The efforts are, however, seen as largely symbolic. Existing laws prevent any local authorities in the state from refusing to enforce a state law.
There are now 77 Second Amendment Sanctuary communities across Virginia, and by the end of today we should have more than 80 counties and cities that have signed on. https://t.co/9tKbgfBd4e— Cam Edwards (@CamEdwards) December 11, 2019
Northam has pushed back on the sort of resolutions being passed by Chesapeake City, saying the laws he has proposed are all Constitutional.
“We’re not going to take people’s guns away,” he said.
But, he said, “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 but I’ll cross that bridge if and when we get to it.”