As a majority of local counties in Virginia are declaring themselves "Second Amendment sanctuaries," a direct response to a new push by Democrats to pass stricter gun control measures, one of the state's county sheriffs says he'll "deputize citizens" as auxiliary deputies to protect their constitutional right to bear firearms.
Local leaders and an increasing number of sheriffs argue that gun control measures proposed by Democrats, which could be approved by the state legislature as soon as next year, are unnecessary and overreaching.
"To be short, there is no need for further gun restrictions," Culpeper County Sheriff Scott Jenkins told The Epoch Times. "The proposed laws that are designed to supposedly restrict criminal activity, in fact, will only impact law-abiding citizens."
While Jenkins said he had taken a strong stance by announcing his willingness to deputize citizens, he said he hopes the legislature will work to reach sensible solutions.
Jenkins said the gun restriction proposals "shook the core of conservative and libertarian groups throughout the commonwealth." He described the legislature's proposals as "a far-left agenda that continues to be pushed throughout our country."
"I think [local officials] are fully awake now and have become laser-focused on the goal of stopping this government overreach and restriction of our constitutional rights," he said.
Tazewell's board is made up of three Democrats and two Republicans. Both resolutions passed unanimously.
Jenkins said he was "pleasantly surprised" by the growing number of Virginia counties that have joined what he described as an "organic movement."
"[It] sends a message to Richmond [Virginia's capital] that the majority of our commonwealth would like the laws to remain as they are and not further restrict and punish our law-abiding citizens," he said.
Jenkins said he's aware of reports saying that some Virginia counties are discussing whether to establish militias; he said that isn't something that he's discussed or given any consideration.
He said the state legislature should direct its focus and energy toward mental health issues and other social problems that are "the core of these [shooting] incidents."
National GuardIn response to the rising number of Second Amendment sanctuaries, a U.S. House Democrat floated the idea that Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam could direct the state's National Guard to help enforce the proposed gun restrictions. Northam is also a Democrat.
Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Va.) made the proposal on Dec. 11, while also suggesting cutting off state funds to counties that don’t comply with gun control measures that might pass in the state.
Jenkins, meanwhile, called McEachin's comments "reckless."
"I'm hoping that was said off the cuff and without too much thought of the impact a statement like that would have on our citizens," he said. "It's definitely the wrong direction to go with the conversation."
The Virginia National Guard responded with a string of Twitter posts, in which they said they haven't received any requests from the governor.
Williams added that personnel "are free to express their opinions to their elected officials, but they should not engage in any political activity while in a uniformed status."