Halifax Delegate James Edmunds is proposing legislation in the upcoming General Assembly session that would protect counties and localities declaring themselves Second Amendment Sanctuaries from laws further restricting gun ownership rights.
Democrats seized control of both houses of the Virginia legislature after November’s election, many on a pro-gun control platform leaving a number of county residents concerned about erosion of their gun rights.
Resolutions and actions already taken by localities declaring themselves Second Amendment Sanctuaries have no legal bearing, acknowledged Edmunds, whose proposed bill would allow those who elect to become Second Amendment Sanctuaries immunity from further legislation that erodes gun ownership rights.
“It basically gives immunity to any further restrictions on gun ownership or use in those counties that declare themselves Second Amendment Sanctuaries,” Edmunds said before the board of supervisors took up the issue at its meeting on Monday night.
A lot of Democratic legislators were elected on a pro-gun control agenda, and that concerns a lot of people, particular in more conservative rural areas.
“That’s exactly why I’m trying to pass this bill. I know there are a lot of Democrats who will try and pass bills, some collectively in one bill, some individually, attempting to alter one aspect of gun ownership or another,” explained Edmunds. “That’s why my bill is so helpful, because in those counties that declare themselves sanctuaries, they don’t want any more gun restrictions.”
There may be counties that want further gun restrictions, and his proposed legislation would allow them to make that choice, according to Edmunds.
Any laws restricting the rights of gun owners that do pass the legislature will probably be challenged in the courts, and that concerns him as well, Edmunds pointed out.
“I don’t think any Constitutional rights should be interpreted by any sitting judges or even the Supreme Court, because it just opens Pandora’s box,” he explained.
“That’s why I like my bill, those counties that want to be affected, will, and those counties that don’t, won’t.”
With the strong emotions surrounding the issue of gun rights, his bill would give people like himself who are upset with potential passage of stricter gun laws something to rally behind.
“It mainly gives people like myself who are upset with these potential gun laws something to get behind rather than say they’re just mad,” said Edmunds.
He anticipates court challenges to any further restrictions on gun laws, like red flag laws.
In the United States, a red flag law is a gun violence prevention law that permits police or family members to petition a state court to order the temporary removal of firearms from a person who may present a danger to others or themselves.
“For a gun owner, these are serious times, and I’m happy the county is proposing to become a Second Amendment Sanctuary,” Edmunds concluded. “It sends a strong message but hopefully with the bill I’m drafting, it will have more meaning.”