AP Photo/Steve Helber
What’s happening in Virginia right now- dozens of cities and counties declaring themselves to be Second Amendment sanctuaries while Governor Ralph Northam, Attorney General Mark Herring, and other Democrats vow there will be “consequences” for any defiance of the governor’s proposed gun control laws- has become a national story, and not just among gun owners.
When Virginia Congressman Donald McEachin called for the governor to use the National Guard to enforce the impending restrictions on legal gun owners, interest in the state’s showdown over the new gun laws understandably exploded. While the mainstream media coverage has ramped up, so has the social media coverage, and I’ve been seeing a few things going around over the past couple of days that aren’t accurate that I want to address.
With a lot of non-gun owners now paying at least cursory attention to what’s taking place in Virginia, we have an opportunity to engage and education people about what’s coming in Virginia, but that means focusing on the real issues and not getting distracted by false flags and hucksters out to make a buck off of people’s understandable fears.
To that end, let’s take a look at a couple of bills that have been pre-filed that are making some waves online.
The first is SB 64, which, to hear some folks describe it, is going to outlaw teaching firearms safety and self-defense courses.
Known as SB64, the bill, according to Self Defense Company, would “instantly transform all martial arts instructors into criminal felons.” They also claim that it would criminalize all firearms training classes, including concealed carry classeshttps://t.co/VxfR9b3lat
— nonnadukes2012 (@nonnadukes2012) December 15, 2019
In actuality, SB 64 doesn’t change any of Virginia’s laws regarding firearms training. Here’s the pertinent text of the legislation.
shall beis guilty of unlawful paramilitary activity, punishable as a Class 5 felony if he:
1. Teaches or demonstrates to any other person the use, application, or making of any firearm, explosive, or incendiary device, or technique capable of causing injury or death to persons, knowing or having reason to know or intending that such training will be employed for use in, or in furtherance of, a civil disorder;
2. Assembles with one or more persons for the purpose of training with, practicing with, or being instructed in the use of any firearm, explosive, or incendiary device, or technique capable of causing injury or death to persons, intending to employ such training for use in, or in furtherance of, a civil disorder; or
3. Assembles with one or more persons with the intent of intimidating any person or group of persons by drilling, parading, or marching with any firearm, any explosive or incendiary device, or any components or combination thereof.
Obviously some people are looking at the second section of the bill and seeing a ban on self-defense training. That’s not the case.
First of all, that section of the bill is already Virginia law and we have plenty of firearms and self-defense classes being offered around the state. Note that the prohibition only applies to individuals who are training to bring about civil disorder. The only new addition to the state statutes is the portion of the bill in italics, which indicates new text being added to the existing statute. So, what SB 64 really does is ban the public assembly of armed individuals who have the intent of intimidating others.
Could this bill be used to go after open carry marches or other Second Amendment rallies where many attendees may be armed? I think that’s a possibility, and I suspect if SB 64 becomes law it will be challenged in court before it is ever used to try to prevent a lawful assembly from taking place, or we see Virginia gun owners are arrested for engaging in a lawful assembly because anti-gun activists claim they’re being intimidated. It’s a bad bill, but it’s not going to ban firearms training or self-defense classes.
Another bill that’s raising questions is HB 67, which sounds like it’s designed to allow for law enforcement who refuse to enforce unconstitutional gun control laws to be fired.
— Being Libertarian (@beinlibertarian) December 14, 2019
Let’s take a look at the specific language.
§ 40.1-55. Public safety employee striking terminates, and becomes temporarily ineligible for, public employment.
A. As used in this article, “public safety employee” means any law-enforcement officer, as defined in § 9.1-500.
B. Any public safety employee
of the Commonwealth, or of any county, city, town or other political subdivision thereof, or of any agency of any one of them,who, in concert with two or more other such employees, for the purpose of obstructing, impeding or suspending any activity or operation of his employing agency or any other governmental agency, strikes or willfully refuses to perform the duties of his employment shall, by such action, be deemed to have terminated his employment and shall thereafter be ineligible for employment in any position or capacity during the next twelve12 months by the Commonwealth, or any county, city, town or other political subdivision of the Commonwealth, or by any department or agency of any of them.
Again, the new language are the words in italics. This bill isn’t about firing law enforcement officials who refuse to enforce gun control laws, it’s about changing the law to allow government workers who aren’t law enforcement to go on strike without fear of termination, as attorney Gabriel Malor noted on Twitter.
This legislation would make it so public employee union folks cannot be disciplined for striking.
In fact, it changes current law so only “public safety officers” are subject to those labor laws.
The idea that this proposal has anything to do with gun laws is false. https://t.co/NbrQp1nUoT
— Gabriel Malor (@gabrielmalor) December 15, 2019
Now, could it be used to go after law enforcement for refusing to enforce local gun control laws? Maybe, though I doubt it. After all, no one in law enforcement is talking about going on strike, and but simply using discretion when it comes to enforcement of any unconstitutional gun control laws. Moreover, county sheriffs and their deputies are not considered public safety officers under the definitions contained within the bill, so it wouldn’t even be enforceable against those law enforcement agencies in Second Amendment Sanctuary counties.
Finally, there’s a rumor that Governor Northam is planning on cutting off infrastructure to rural counties before attempting to enforce his gun control laws. I’ve seen this on Twitter, Facebook, and online forums like AR15.com. It goes something like this:
The Governor of Virginia has allegedly ordered a small cadre of staffers to begin the process for determining how to cut off electricity, telephones/ FAXES, Cellular phones AND DATA, as well as the Internet, in areas where he plans to send Virginia National Guard Troops to forcibly seize guns when the Democrat legislature convenes in January!
The order was allegedly given to a very small and trusted group of staffers, some of whom it turns out, do not agree (at all) with this idea.
To put it bluntly, this is nonsense. And in fact, at the website where I first saw this “story” (I’m not going to give them the traffic by linking to it directly), this so-called news was immediately followed by links to buy body armor, food supplies, and other prepper gear. This is simply a case of somebody trying to make a buck by scaring the bejeebers out of gun owners.
Yes, Ralph Northam could conceivably call out the National Guard to enforce his gun control laws in Second Amendment Sanctuary communities, but even if he is dumb enough to do that (which would almost certainly create a crisis within the Guard itself), there’s no way Northam is going to cut off electricity and internet to 80% of the state.
There are 75 Second Amendment Sanctuary counties in Virginia at the moment, and 17 Second Amendment Sanctuary cities or towns (that number will change on Monday as more votes are scheduled). If Ralph Northam cut off the power and Internet across the entire state save for northern Virginia and the Richmond area, it wouldn’t just cause an uproar among gun owners. It would impact millions of residents, cripple businesses, and plunge the state into chaos.
The truth is, the bills that have already been introduced are bad enough that we don’t need to invent any new ones. Here’s a partial list of the legislation Virginia’s anti-gun lawmakers, including Governor Northam, are considering:
- banning the most commonly produced and owned rifles in the United States
- banning magazines that can hold more than ten rounds of ammunition
- requiring background checks on most transfers of firearms
- fining gun owners who fail to report lost or stolen firearms
- prohibits individuals convicted of misdemeanor assault and battery of a family member from owning a gun.
- banning bump stocks and binary triggers
- turning state-owned and leased buildings into gun free zones
- rationing handgun purchases to one per month
- stripping parents of their ability to decide when their child is responsible enough to access a firearm.
- weakening firearms preemption law by allowing localities to ban firearms from permitted events.
Those are just the worst of the bills that have already been pre-filed before the legislative session begins in early January. Bills can be filed until January 17th, and we know that there will be more heading our way, including an Extreme Risk Protection Order or “red flag” firearms seizure bill. Second Amendment supporters need to be armed with the facts in the weeks ahead, because if we focus on the fictions, we’re only going to be hurting our ability to effectively push back on the infringements headed our way.