Push For Gun Control Deepens Virginia's Rural-Urban Divide

 Campbell County, Virginia, in the south-central part of the state, is the first county to declare itself a Second Amendment Sanctuary since the election, though I suspect it won’t be the last. 

Brookneal District Supervisor Charlie Watts proposed a resolution to acknowledge the Campbell County Board of Supervisor’s “deep commitment” to maintaining the rights of Campbell County citizens to keep and bear arms.

In the resolution, he declared Campbell County a “Second Amendment sanctuary,” and emphasized opposition to any infringement of Second Amendment rights.

“It’s my opinion that we adopt this and make it known where we stand as a board,” Watts said.

The resolution was approved unanimously.

Governor Ralph Northam better get used to votes like this in the more rural parts of the state, because many rural Virginians are going to #Resist the Democrats’ agenda just like Democrats have resisted the Trump administration. It hasn’t even been a week since anti-gun politicians seized control of the statehouse in Virginia, and already we’re seeing pushback to the gun control agenda that will be front and center when lawmakers convene for the 2020 session in early January. However, it’s not just gun control that has many rural Virginians figuratively up in arms. 

Sunburst District Supervisor Bob Good offered six components to be added to the “state partnership” category of the legislative agenda. They emphasized protections for second amendment rights, as well as supporting Virginia’s status as a right-to-work state, keeping taxes low and supporting the “sanctity of human life from conception.”

“We voted in Campbell, thank the Lord, and in the surrounding counties, 70% against the agenda that has been put forth by the governor and the new majority in the General Assembly,” Good said. “They’ve told us they are going to do these things. This is us with a voice saying as representatives of citizens of Campbell County that we stand against [them].”

Spring Hill District Supervisor James Borland also voiced his support of the addendum, adding with the changes in Virginia’s legislature, “we need to make our voice known.”

Note what the supervisor said. There were quite a few Republicans re-elected with more than 60% of the vote in rural Virginia, and in some cases they were indeed able to capture more than 70% of the total number of votes cast. Meanwhile in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., Virginia Beach, and Richmond, Democrats were able to win (by very narrow margins in some cases) enough swing districts to gain control of both chambers of the legislature for the first time in 26 years. While the indigo parts of the state remained a deep blue, and many suburban swing districts went from purple to navy, the red parts of Virginia turned an even deeper shade of crimson. Now those residents worry that they’re going to be ignored, and for good reason. They will be.

I’ve had a lot of people ask me since the election some variation of the question “How bad do you think it’s going to be?”  It’s going to be bad, folks. Gun control groups feel like they won this election, and they’re going to take a victory lap. Governor Northam’s entire agenda is going to be approved by lawmakers, including his gun and magazine ban. Northam says the gun ban will not include a mandatory compensated confiscation program “at this stage”, but clearly isn’t ruling anything out.

On the issue of banning assault weapons, Kelly asked Northam what he will do about the ones Virginians already possess. “Will you confiscate them?” Kelly asks.

“No ma’am, not at this stage,” Northam said, “We’re looking at banning the sales of assault weapons … that would be what we would start with.”

Northam, a former Army physician, said the eight bills he introduced in June are a starting point, adding “I’m sure there will be others introduced.”

He added: “I have been to enough funerals. I’ve been to enough vigils. I have heard enough well-intended people say that our thoughts and prayers are with these families,” Northam said.

“But now it’s time for legislators, for our leaders, to come to Richmond and take votes and pass laws.”

Laws aimed entirely at law-abiding gun owners. Laws designed, not to reduce suicides or gang-related homicides, but to reduce legal gun ownership. Laws that will prove to be unenforceable, ineffective, unconstitutional, or all of the above.

Counties declaring themselves to be safe havens for the Second Amendment are a natural offshoot of the Left’s “resistance” to laws they don’t like; from legalizing cannabis at the state or local level to not helping to enforce federal immigration law to cities like Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania passing local gun laws in violation of state law. Anti-gun activists, many of whom fit comfortably in the broader world of “progressive” activism, really shouldn’t be surprised if Second Amendment supporters start to adopt similar tactics to protect and preserve individual liberties. It could be that by the time any of Ralph Northam’s gun control proposals become law, almost every county in Virginia outside of the major metropolitan areas will be a Second Amendment Sanctuary.

What happens then? I’m no Nostradamus, but I think a lot of non-compliance and very little if any enforcement are the most likely outcomes. I also suspect that many of the impending gun control laws are going to be challenged in court, and hopefully they’ll be enjoined from taking effect while the lawsuits proceed.

In the meantime, as much as rural counties may react to the anti-gun laws in Richmond, the Second Amendment supporters in places like Campbell County can’t just talk to themselves. I’m a rural Virginia gun owner. I will definitely be talking to my county commissioners about becoming a Second Amendment Sanctuary. However, I’m also going to Petersburg, Virginia in early January to speak to the Petersburg GOP. The residents there live with one of the worst violent crime rates in the nation, and they’re being told that a better day is coming once these new gun control laws take effect. Instead, what’s likely to happen is that bunch of young black men are going to get arrested for non-violent, possessory offenses. Many of them won’t be gang members, but otherwise law-abiding citizens who have a gun with a 17-round magazine.

Since one of the measures that Northam is pushing would gut Virginia’s firearm pre-emption laws, we can also expect more draconian laws to be introduced in places like Petersburg, Richmond, Virginia Beach, and the D.C. suburbs. It won’t be enough for rural Virginians to hunker down and try to defend our rights at home. Despite the deepening cultural divide between rural and urban Virginia on a whole host of issues, we’re going to have to work with our fellow Second Amendment supporters, whether they live in the country, the suburbs, or the cities on smart, effective, and honest strategies and messaging that not only will secure our individual liberties and freedoms, but will effectively address those issues that gun control pretends to; gang violence, domestic violence, and mental health/suicide.  It won’t be easy, but it beats giving up or hoping that shouting “Shall Not Be Infringed” will be enough to keep the bad laws at bay.