By Jeff Hulbert
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has issued an official advisory opinion declaring that any and all new gun laws passed by the General Assembly must be enforced—despite Herring once declining to defend a law in court that he believed was invalid.
Herring’s opinion came in the form of a written response to a fellow elected Democrat, who indicated that he is alarmed by the flood of Second Amendment sanctuary resolutions adopted by more than 100 Virginia counties and towns over the past month.
Current sanctuary map! pic.twitter.com/PkB5i1iZ8t
— Phil Van Cleave VCDL (@VCDL_ORG) December 21, 2019
Delegate Jerrauld C. “Jay” Jones of Norfolk requested the opinion following statements from some Virginia sheriffs that they would refuse to enforce unconstitutional gun laws issued by the new Democrat-controlled General Assembly.
Statewide Democrats, along with Governor Ralph Northam, have committed to passing at least eight new gun control laws in 2020—measures that would include universal background checks on the sales of all firearms in Virginia, a ban on AR-15 pattern rifles, and a “red flag” law allowing authorities to confiscate the firearms from anyone deemed a threat.
From the Virginia AG’s four-page official opinion:
When the General Assembly passes new gun safety laws they will be enforced, and they will be followed. These resolutions have no legal force, and they’re just part of an effort by the gun lobby to stoke fear.
While the Virginia Citizens Defense League and other gun rights advocates tout the Second Amendment sanctuary resolutions as an effective—but possibly only symbolic—political pressure campaign, there are Virginia elected officials and sheriffs who say they will honor the resolutions to ignore any unconstitutional gun rights infringements coming out of Richmond.
With the release of the advisory opinion, the Virginia Attorney General opens himself to claims that he’s a hypocrite when it comes to enforcing the law.
House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert, a Republican from Shenandoah, says Attorney General Herring’s official stance on gun control enforcement stands in contradiction to Herring’s refusal in 2014 to defend Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban in state court—a ban that Herring regarded as unconstitutional.
Attorney General Herring’s opinion is interesting, as it directly contradicts his own statements and actions regarding the supremacy of state law over the preferences of the officials who must enforce them.
Phillip Van Cleave, the president of the VCDL, agrees that AG Herring is hypocritical in declaring gun control laws be enforced while the laws Herring disagrees with are not.
From the Associated Press:
Philip Van Cleave, president of the gun rights group Virginia Citizens Defense League, called Herring’s advisory opinion “a yawn.”
“The whole idea was to send a message from local government representing large numbers of people to say no more gun control,” Van Cleave said.
And in an online post, Van Cleave said “VA AG says you can ignore immigration and marijuana laws, but not gun laws.”
Old Dominion Democrats complain that the VCDL’s campaign to persuade Virginia counties and towns to enact Second Amendment sanctuary resolutions has dangerously energized a growing militia movement, not only in the Commonwealth, but across the country.
On January 20th, the VCDL’s Lobby Day event in Richmond is expected to draw thousands of armed gun rights supporters to the Statehouse grounds. The VCDL says militia groups are welcome at the event to “enhance security”—a position that Democrats say is tantamount to the approval of an insurrection.
The turnout in Richmond for the Lobby Day event, which has historically drawn about a thousand, is now predicted to overwhelm the Capitol complex next month, possibly attracting 10,000 guns rights supporters or more.
Jeff Hulbert is the founder of Patriot Picket.