Virginia lawmakers are pushing through anti-gun legislation to limit gun purchases, require background checks on private sales, and require that local communities ban guns at public events. In anticipation of the onslaught on gun rights, more than 90% of Virginia counties declared themselves “Second Amendment sanctuary” counties. The gun sanctuary movement is backed by the incredible momentum that led to the peaceful pro-gun rally in Richmond on Monday, but liberals, and even conservatives, are missing the point entirely of Second Amendment sanctuaries.
Some conservatives, such as Brad Polumbo at the Washington Examiner, claim Second Amendment sanctuary counties are “an affront to the rule of law.” Polumbo wrote: “Refusal to abide by laws properly passed through our electoral system and then upheld by the judiciary … well, that’s just anarchy.” Polumbo also compared Second Amendment sanctuaries with the illegal immigrant sanctuary cities that have sprouted across the nation: “There are important differences, but it is interesting to see how many conservatives vigorously oppose sanctuary cities for immigrants while defending ‘Second Amendment sanctuaries.'”
This comparison is faulty. The creation of Second Amendment sanctuaries has a constitutional basis, whereas illegal immigrant sanctuary cities flout the Constitution and the supremacy of the federal government. As the Constitution supersedes all local and state laws, there is an argument to be made for civil disobedience against state laws that infringe on the Second Amendment. That argument does not apply to illegal immigrant sanctuaries since the Constitution does not grant illegal aliens the right to stay in the United States.
Meanwhile, the Left is attacking Second Amendment sanctuaries, saying they are not protection from government overreach “but from democracy itself.” For example, Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, claims Second Amendment sanctuaries are “dangerous attempts to defy the democratic will of the people.”
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Rather than an attack on democracy, sanctuary counties are a proper exercise of local democracy. The populations of 86 of Virginia’s 95 counties are in an uproar over the gun control bills, with some members of law enforcement promising to deputize citizens to circumvent the gun control measures. (This will only be effective, however, if the gun control laws have built-in exemptions for law enforcement.)
In Virginia, county sheriffs are elected. They’re accountable to the voters of their county, not the state government. Using their discretion not to enforce laws that people of their county view as unconstitutional is exactly what they should do. It’s precisely proper leadership. Additionally, no officials promoting Second Amendment sanctuaries have said they would defy a decision from the Supreme Court, just that they wish to wait until one, if any, is handed down.
Regardless, everyone is missing the point.
The legality of sanctuary cities can be questioned, but the point of sanctuary city resolutions is to express loud and clear the humanity of the constituents who are voicing their opinions in the democratic process. There should be an understanding and appreciation of what they are expressing. Their affirmation and belief in the Second Amendment is shown by their willingness to show up at town halls and county meetings to support passage of Second Amendment sanctuary resolutions. Whether or not Second Amendment sanctuaries are deemed legal is somewhat beside the point when Democrats and liberals are ignoring the vast masses who support the Second Amendment.
The liberal ignorance on the true nature of Second Amendment supporters is shown by the hysteria that was whipped up before Monday’s rally for gun rights. Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, implemented a one-day gun ban at the Virginia Capitol and declared a state of emergency before Monday’s gun rights rally. He later admitted that an NRA event last week was a “peaceful event.” The Monday rally, including some estimated 22,000 gun owners, passed with only one arrest for violating an anti-mask law.
Yet, for no good reason, the media tried to make the rally look like a gathering of white supremacists, even though it was remarkably diverse. They tried to turn it into a second Charlottesville. If the media was to be believed, a gathering of law-abiding gun owners should have led to wanton violence and destruction in the capital.
In reality, a cordial, civil protest took place. No looting, no riots, no violence. The protesters even cleaned up trash on the street afterward. The tall tales of bad actors and neo-Nazi infiltrators were hyped beyond belief in an attempt to paint the entire rally as a group of extremists.
The sheer number of peaceful and civil protesters reinforces the humanity inherent in the gun rights movement. Lawmakers in Virginia and across the nation won’t be able to ignore that for much longer.