Virginia National Guard Responds After Lawmaker Suggests Using It to Enforce Gun Laws

December 14, 2019 Updated: December 14, 2019
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The Virginia National Guard responded on Dec. 13 after a Democratic Congressman suggested using the force to enforce gun laws in Virginia.

A number of counties have declared themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries, opposing gun control laws.

Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Va.) suggested cutting off state funds to counties that don’t comply with any gun control measures that pass in the state capitol and suggested that Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam could call in the National Guard to enforce gun laws.

“I’m not the governor, but the governor may have to nationalize the National Guard to enforce the law,” he told the Washington Examiner. “That’s his call, because I don’t know how serious these counties are and how severe the violations of law will be. But that’s obviously an option he has.”

The suggestion provoked uproar on Friday, prompting a response from the Virginia National Guard.

“We have received multiple questions regarding proposed legislation for the 2020 General Assembly session and the authority of the governor of Virginia to employ the Virginia National Guard in a law enforcement role,” Major General Timothy Williams, the adjutant general of the state, said in a statement released by the Virginia National Guard.

He said he couldn’t say whether the National Guard would be used to enforce gun laws.

“We understand and respect the passion people feel for the U.S. Constitution and Second Amendment rights. We will not speculate about the possible use of the Virginia National Guard,” the statement read.

“I encourage everyone to be patient while we allow our elected officials to work through the legislative process. We have not received any requests from the governor, or anyone on his staff, about serving in a law enforcement role related to any proposed legislation. I expect our soldiers, airmen, and members of the Virginia Defense Force to be professional and respectful in their discussions about this subject,” Williams continued.

“As private citizens, our 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. We will provide regular updates when appropriate during the General Assembly session. Please utilize your chain of command to direct any questions or concerns to my office, and we will do our best to address them.”

Northam has signaled he’d be willing to impose consequences on counties and municipalities that don’t comply with gun laws that the state legislature passes.

“If we have constitutional laws on the books and law enforcement officers are not enforcing those laws on the books, then there are going to be some consequences,” Northam said on Thursday. “But I’ll cross that bridge if and when we get to it,” he added.

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