Things are getting interesting up in Virginia. As it stands, a bunch of counties have joined the sanctuary county movement that’s been sweeping the nation. Even a city has joined. For better or worse, it’s a thing now, and it should send a clear message to lawmakers in Richmond when they take office early next year.
However, some communities are declining to join. Roanoke, for example, voted against such a measure earlier this week. On Wednesday night, the Hampton Roads city of Suffolk also declined. Well, at least for now.
Suffolk will not join the list of cities declaring themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries.
At least, not right now.
After nearly three hours of public comment from gun rights activists, Mayor Linda Johnson and a majority of council members stated it was just too soon to take action against what speakers called “an assault on their constitutional rights.”
Just as in Virginia Beach the night before, nothing to do with firearms appeared on the meeting agenda, but fear over what a new Democrat majority in the General Assembly could mean for gun laws brought out hundreds.
40 minutes before Suffolk City Council’s meeting began Wednesday night, the chambers were already filled to the max with 150 people. By the time the meeting began, about 450 additional people filled the lobby and dozens more had to stand outside.
“I’ve read what they’re saying it means and it’s saying that we would not enforce any unconstitutional laws,” Johnson said. “Of course we would not enforce any unconstitutional laws, but they have to be declared unconstitutional and that’s not something we can do. And, as I said on the dais, we took an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Virginia so that’s the position we’re in and we just need to wait and see.”
I beg to disagree with Johnson. Every American has a right to determine whether a law is constitutional or not. As elected lawmakers of a community, your obligation is to uphold the constitution. If you believe a law is unconstitutional, you are duty-bound to not enforce it. It’s just that simple.
The courts step in when there is disagreement, of course, but it doesn’t fall exclusively on them to determine if a law is constitutional or not.
However, I suspect Johnson is just putting it on the courts so she can throw her hands up and feign powerlessness on the topic. She was faced with a lot of pro-gun people and didn’t want to alienate so many voters while, at the same time, she didn’t want to side with them either. A little political slight of hand with her deflection.
Of course, as more and more counties in the state adopt sanctuary status, Johnson and company are likely to have to revisit this issue. I somehow doubt that the people of Suffolk are willing to just let this lie. They’re going to demand Johnson and company make a stand one way or another. She won’t be able to kick the can down the road like that indefinitely.