Immediately after Virginia Governor Ralph Northam got a complicit legislature in place, the vast majority of counties in the state passed some form of sanctuary resolution. They wanted the folks in Richmond to know that the rest of the state didn’t really care what the D.C. suburbs thought, they weren’t giving up their guns for much of anything.
As Cam noted last week, though, that wasn’t the end of it. A second wave seemed to be brewing.
Well, that second wave definitely seems to be rolling along.
Local officials across Virginia are resisting the push from Virginia Democrats to adopt gun-free zones.
Lawmakers in Powhatan County—located just outside Richmond— unanimously passed a “No Local Gun Control” resolution that would prevent localities from creating gun-free zones. The debate over gun restrictions that dominated Gov. Ralph Northam’s (D.) agenda in the early months of 2020 has moved back to the local level after state Democrats passed a law allowing local governments to ban the presence of firearms at certain buildings and events. Larry Nordvig, the independent Powhatan County supervisor who introduced the county’s resolution, told the Washington Free Beacon he hopes the resolution sends a message to the statehouse.
“The tension is growing and the blame is entirely theirs,” he said. “Our natural-born rights are being eroded at lightning speed, and I intend to help citizens stand against government overreach. This resolution contained a plan of action to defund any unconstitutional actions. The time for talk is over. It’s time for action.”
Powhatan is the fifth county to pass the resolution since the new gun-control measures went into effect in July. Other cities have embraced the new regulatory power, with Alexandria, Newport News, and Richmond using the state law to establish gun bans in government buildings, parks, and at permitted events. The gun-free zone debate sets the stage for a second showdown between liberal strongholds, Democratic leaders, and the rest of the state over more restrictive gun laws.
The previous effort was mostly symbolic. State law is written in such a way that any measure that calls for ignoring a state measure is illegal. These measures, however, are different. The legislature said local jurisdictions could adopt local gun laws, but that means counties can block them at that level, thus creating preemption at a slightly more local level.
Of course, anti-gunners aren’t likely to approve of this, which makes me like it based on that fact alone. Especially since the people always attacking preemption on the grounds that local officials should decide gun laws for themselves really just want people to decide to pass gun control and not legally bar it.
The big question is whether this will have any long-term ramifications. While these are likely the right moves to make from a gun rights point of view, is it the right move to make politically?
To that, I just have to figure that local officials are typically less removed from their constituents than state and federal lawmakers. They’d know if they were overstepping.
As a result, I have a feeling a lot of freshman state legislators are going to know what it’s like to be a one-termer when election time rolls around again in the very near future.