GOP-led county boards in Virginia declare​ themselves 'Second Amendment Sanctuaries'

By Sean Galvin

November 22, 2019

Republican strongholds in the Commonwealth prepare for Democratic majority by passing symbolic resolutions opposing gun safety measures.

Officials in a growing number of Virginia counties have voted to designate their localities as “Second Amendment Sanctuaries.” The resolutions express the county’s intent to oppose gun safety measures and not spend public money on enforcing them. The movement comes after Gov. Northam said the new Democratic majority will pursue gun safety legislation. 

Appomattox, Campbell, Charlotte, Carroll, and Pittsylvania counties have all adopted the legislation, with Amherst and Franklin counties looking to follow suit. Philip Van Cleave, the president of Virginia Citizens Defense League, a group helping to organize the effort told the Virginia Mercury he expects a “tsunami” of gun sanctuary resolutions.

Ultimately, the counties’ declarations are just gestures and not legally binding. Attorney General Mark Herring’s office released a statement saying the new resolutions “appear to be nothing more than symbolic.” Sen. Dick Saslaw, (D- Fairfax), the incoming Senate Majority Leader for the 2020 session, went a step further, calling those working on the legislation “delusional.”

Democrats say they plan to pass gun safety laws when they take over the General Assembly in January. The legislation they are considering include measures like universal background checks, red flag laws, and bans on assault-style weapons.

Several attendees used language that bordered on apocalyptic at the Amherst County Board of Supervisors meeting on Monday.

“The time is coming,” one man said, according to The Virginia Mercury. “I’m mighty afraid that we’re going to have to defend ourselves because of what we believe in.”

While the city’s leaders said they wanted to pass the resolution, they decided they needed more time to polish its language.

On Tuesday, the crowd at Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors meeting erupted in applause when the resolution was passed unanimously. Mark Matthews, a retired firefighter and sheriff’s deputy who supported the resolution, saw its passage as part of a larger battle being waged in the Commonwealth.

“We are at war for our values,” he said.

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