In interviews with The Epoch Times, Second Amendment advocates, including local residents, county sheriffs, gun store owners, and Virginia’s NRA leader, argued that the proposed gun control measures were an overreach that violated residents’ constitutional rights. They said stricter legislation will do nothing to stop criminals from committing crimes and said the focus should be more on mental health.
“I think that if there’s a mandate in Virginia, it’s that they don’t want gun control. We don’t want gun control,” he told The Epoch Times. “These numbers are tremendous, and you really don’t see that kind of turnout for any kind of political event whatsoever.
“It’s woken a sleeping giant, if you will,” Thwing added. Some of the Second Amendment supporters took the day off work to attend, while others drove from hours away.
The number of Second Amendment supporters who showed up wasn’t surprising, Matt Rogers, chief of staff to Sen. David W. Marsden (D-Fairfax), said before the hearing. Marsden represents the 37th District in the state Senate.
Daniel Spiker, state director at the National Rifle Association (NRA), expressed disappointment following the results of the committee hearing. He predicted the fight for Second Amendment rights will be a very long and drawn-out one.
“SB-16 being stricken from the record is an indication that the governor and some of the Democrats have seen that they’ve overreached and that these bills have unintended consequences,” he told The Epoch Times.
“We’re encouraged by it. But at the end of the day, it’s still multiple levels of new regulation and new laws imposed on law-abiding citizens,” he said.
“It’s indicative of what this movement is and the enthusiasm we’re seeing at the local level with engaging their board of supervisors, their city councils,” Spiker said. “Our hope was for that enthusiasm to come to Richmond.”
The ‘Second Amendment Sanctuary’ MovementOn Jan. 7, the city council in Virginia Beach enacted legislation in a 6 to 4 vote to declare the state’s largest city a “Second Amendment constitutional city.” In that vote, local residents crowded the building to have their voices heard, with an overflow crowd outside watching the proceedings on a TV screen.
Following the Senate committee hearing, a county sheriff said he wasn’t surprised by the committee’s action, and that he was disappointed he couldn’t speak for longer. He said the committee had “their minds made up” and “didn’t want to hear any input,” adding that it could affect their seats in the next election.
“I thank them for starting down this road for one reason—it’s going to flip Virginia back red in so many ways they don’t expect,” Culpeper County Sheriff Scott Jenkins told The Epoch Times. “Elections have consequences.”
Jenkins said the strong push for tighter gun control has “awakened a population in the state that has long been quiet.”
“And that doesn’t account for the court battles that are coming, because there are plenty of us willing to battle this out in the court the right way, as well,” he added.
Northam and other Democratic lawmakers in the state, meanwhile, have credited their focus on gun control for helping them win full control of the General Assembly for the first time in more than two decades, according to The Associated Press.
Paul Moog, who works with the Virginia Citizens Defense League, a nonprofit grassroots organization whose goal is to advance the rights of Virginians to keep and bear arms, said he was very much in favor of the Second Amendment sanctuary movement.
“[We] helped put them in through Orange County,” he said. “I’ve been to several other meetings, and I think it’s a great movement that will help defuse some of the tension.”
The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed by Congress on Sept. 25, 1789, and was ratified on Dec. 15, 1791. The text reads that “a well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Moog claims that the proposed gun control agenda could cause a bigger fight to break out within the state.
“I think that the Democrats are very close to pushing civil war in Virginia,” Moog said. “If you try to turn your opposition into criminals, people have a tendency to want to fight back.”
The sanctuary movement is helping to take the heat off the anger people are feeling, because it’s making them “feel more secure” according to Moog. “I think we’re in a very touchy situation,” he said.
In an interview with radio station WMAL, co-host Mary Walter read from an email that Marsden had reportedly written to a constituent, where he had said that “too many of your members and other 2A supporters appear to have mental health issues.”
Marsden later defended his remarks and cited offensive emails and phone calls he claimed he received from some constituents.
The Virginia National Guard responded with a string of Twitter posts, in which they said they haven’t received any requests from the governor.
‘Innocent Until Proven Guilty’Miles away from the state capital, a local gun store owner said that the constitution protects the people.
“Our constitution protects us ... But the people that want control understand that they can’t get control as long as the population can protect themselves,” Tony Martin, the managing partner of a local gun store, said.
“That’s the point of the Second Amendment—to be able to serve the people and not be oppressed by the government,” he added. “In Virginia, they want to change it completely.”
Red flag laws and other gun control proposals infringe upon the rights of the citizens, Martin said. He said the United States judicial system is based on the principle that everyone is innocent until proven guilty and that, in a court of law, people are entitled to a fair and reasonable opportunity to defend themselves.
Martin said that the red flag law approach appears on the surface as if it should make everyone safer, but, on closer examination, exposes serious issues. In particular, it would forgo the “innocent until proven guilty” principle.
“If in place, you can lose your rights and you can lose your personal property, based on somebody else’s accusation,” he said.
“This is an incremental process. You can’t just come in and say, ‘Oh, here’s the Constitution, let’s shred it and start over.’ They can’t do that, so they are taking baby steps and they have done so for many, many years.”
Martin noted that the “firearms industry is the most heavily regulated industry in the world.” He said he also objects to the term “gun violence,” saying that the gun itself isn’t capable of committing any crimes.
“It’s an inanimate object,” he said. “Now, could it be used violently by a person? Of course. And for that matter, anything could.”