By Jeff Hulbert
In a comprehensive open letter addressed to the Members of the Virginia General Assembly, Constitutional Officers of the Commonwealth and to the People of Virginia, gun rights groups Gun Owners of America and the Virginia Citizens Defense League have shredded the Virginia Attorney General’s dismissive “advisory opinion” on declarations of Second Amendment sanctuaries in the Old Dominion.
Read the full letter here (PDF).
The letter, dated December 26th, is a deep dive into the historical record, established legal theory, and common law doctrines. It pulls no punches.
[I]t is apparent that AG Herring and Governor Ralph Northam believe that Virginia localities have a duty to actively assist the Commonwealth in the enforcement of any law enacted by the General Assembly. These officials appear to believe that such blind obedience is required irrespective of whether a law violates the U.S. Constitution, the Virginia Constitution, or is manifestly destructive of the pre-existing rights of the People of Virginia. This radical view is demonstrably false, and ignores the significance of the fact that local officials are required by law to take an oath to support the federal and state constitutions above the laws enacted by the General Assembly.
Citing passages from the U.S. Constitution, the Virginia Constitution, multiple Supreme Court cases, as well as excerpts from Thomas Jefferson’s “Virginia and Kentucky Resolves” of 1798, along with references of the resistance to “slavish obedience” framed as far back as the Magna Carta eight centuries ago.
The exhaustive GOA/VCDL gun rights pushback runs a full 12 pages and points out the Governor’s and Attorney General’s hypocrisy.
Neither Attorney General [Mark] Herring nor Governor [Ralph] Northam can credibly command that local governments must implement every act of the General Assembly, because that view directly contradicts the positions they have taken in the past.
Erich Pratt, speaking on behalf of GOA members, along with the VCDL’s Philip Van Cleave, declare that the Virginia General Assembly has voted to establish binding legal precedence that empowers Virginia citizens and sheriffs to refuse to cooperate with “the Unconstitutional laws of a Superior Governmental Authority”.
That authority, the letter states, flows from the Virginia legislature’s response to a 2012 threat issued by President Barrack Obama that American citizens could be detained indefinitely by the U.S. military “without charges, without access to counsel, and without trial” if the detainee was merely suspected of being “an enemy” of American interests.
The Virginia General Assembly, says the the letter, enacted House Bill 1160 overwhelmingly in 2012 to prohibit the Commonwealth “from assisting the federal government in the unlawful detention of U.S. citizens”, following the issuance of Obama’s National Defense Authorization Act.
Summing up the case for resistance to new proposed gun rights infringements, Pratt and Van Cleave conclude . . .
Should the Virginia General Assembly, along with the Virginia Governor or Attorney General, enact and attempt to enforce a law which is prohibited by Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, or Article I, Section 13 of the Virginia Constitution, and the pre-existing, inalienable rights of the People, then such law is of no legitimacy — and void. In response, local government officials who have sworn an Oath to uphold the federal and state constitutions unquestionably have the inherent power — and the duty — to refuse to enforce such unconstitutional laws, and even to protect the People against enforcement.
The Democrat-controlled Virginia General Assembly will be gaveled into its 2020 session on January 8th, with “progressive” leftists there tentatively scheduled to begin pushing an extreme gun control agenda with hearings as early as January 13th.
The Virginia Citizens Defense League, which has predicted tens of thousands of armed citizens will converge on Richmond for a January 20th Lobby Day event, has also pledged to turn out its supporters for any firearms infringement hearings in advance of that.
Jeff Hulbert is the founder of Patriot Picket.