County supervisors in Botetourt, Henry and Franklin County joined the “Second Amendment Sanctuary” circus this week and a similar resolution is planned for consideration by the Floyd County Board of Supervisors at its meeting on Dec. 10.
The resolution is all show with no means for any county or locality to enforce any of the claims of “support of Second Amendment rights.”
Virginia law prohibits local governments “from enacting gun legislation that conflicts with state code.” No county or city or town that bombastically declares itself a “Second Amendment Sanctuary” or pass or order its sheriff or police departments to ignore any gun laws passed by the General Assembly or signed by the governor or choose to “selectively ignore” state laws.
Any “Second Amendment Sanctuary” resolution passed by a Board of Supervisors or a city or town council is as powerless as a resolution passed earlier this year opposing abortion by several counties, including Floyd. It caters to the whims of a special interest group but has no legislative power.
Notes Lori Haas, Virginia State Director for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence:
The gun lobby, after losing election after election, is now pushing for Second Amendment Sanctuaries throughout the state. The Virginia Citizen Defense League (VCDL), with their leader, Phillip Van Cleave, has made it its mission to go against the wishes of the voters of Virginia and continues to push for their guns-everywhere agenda.
The VCDL has long been viewed as a side show inside the halls of the General Assembly — by members of both parties. Their clownish leader Phillip Van Cleave has never met a camera or reporter that he didn’t want to get in front of — even if that meant further damaging his reputation and cause.
Van Cleave is now spinning a fantasy for gun extremists across the state. Like some sort of 2nd Amendment pied piper he is leading a traveling circus of AR-15 toting white men to county councils and localities calling for the enactment of “2nd Amendment Sanctuaries.” A catchy name that means absolutely nothing.
Ironically, the VCDL, in the proposed resolution it is supplying to counties, admits that any board of supervisors “has no legislative, regulatory or enforcement authority related to the ‘purchase, possession, transfer, ownership, carrying, storage or transporting of firearms, ammunition, or components thereof.”
Changes are coming to Virginia’s lax enforcement in gun laws, including tightening and expanded needed background checks and closing loopholes that allow felons to obtain firearms. Voters in Virginia showed support of such changes by giving Democrats, for the first time in 20 years, control of the General Assembly.
Gun supporters are upset by Senate Bill 16, which restricts sale and possession of assault-style semi-automatic weapons. Some feel the proposed law, backed by Sen. Richard Saslaw of Fairfax, expected to be the new Senate majority leader, will allow the state to confiscate such weapons currently owned by Virginia residents. Most new laws dealing with possession of such weapons allows current owners to keep the ones they already own. Senate Bill 16 is considered “broad” and vague on that issue and delegates and senators from both parties say language to allow “grandfathering” the rights of current owners will be necessary for any bill that passes.
Such laws, however, are only considered and passed by the General Assembly. Boards of Supervisors have no say in such laws. Such boards can express support or opposition and/or pass resolutions, but they cannot order a county sheriff or State Police Officers to ignore state legislation on such issues.
“The reality is that these sanctuary declarations are not worth the piece of paper that they are printed on,” says Haas.