Eduardo Acevedo, Contributing Writer
As of Tuesday, 33 of Virginia’s counties and 2 towns have voted to declare themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries after a series of gun control bills were proposed in the Virginia General Assembly.
Second Amendment sanctuaries are cities, towns and counties that vote not to enforce gun control legislation. Fifty-four localities are expected to vote to become a sanctuary this month. Alleghany, Amherst, Culpeper, Greensville, Roanoke and Tazewell counties adopted the status on Tuesday.
“We have rights to bear arms. Point blank. And our county, we have a lot of hunters, lots of sportsmen that like to sport shoot,” Dinwiddie Supervisor William Chavis said to ABC 3 in Harrisonburg.
The emergence of Second Amendment sanctuaries followed gun control legislation that was filed for the 2020 sessions of the newly-appointed and Democrat-led House and Senate.
Sanctuary counties have been used to shield undocumented immigrants from deportation. Those localities — Arlington, Chesterfield and Fairfax counties in Virginia — have policies to prevent officials from cooperating with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Several states have declared themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries, including Kansas, Idaho, Wyoming and Alaska.
University of Virginia professor Rick Schragger told NBC 10 that the sanctuary counties likely would not block constitutional gun laws, but could give more discretion to local police departments.
“What they can do as a practical matter is quite limited,” Schragger said. “Mostly, declaring yourself a Second Amendment sanctuary is more of a symbolic statement.”
“The sanctuary movement will be a serious impediment to enforcing regulatory gun control,” said James Jacobs, author of “The Toughest Gun Control Law in the Nation,” in an email.
“State legislatures can pass such controls but if not enforceable, they will be largely ignored,” Jacobs said.
House Bill 2 makes conducting background checks a requirement for any firearm sellers and adds a Class 6 felony charge for failing to obtain one. Additionally, any firearm buyer who was not background checked could be found guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Under House Bill 9, gun owners must report any lost or stolen firearms within 24 hours of the discovery of said loss or theft. Failure to report a lost or stolen firearm would result in a maximum fine of $250. This bill would grant the gun owner protection against any criminal or civil liability for acts committed with their lost or stolen gun.
Senate Bill 14 makes manufacturing, selling, owning and importing trigger activators illegal. A trigger activator is defined in the bill as a device attached to a semi-automatic firearm that allows the firearm to discharge two or more shots in a burst.
Trigger activators have been criticized after 12 bump stock devices were found at the scene of the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting that left 58 people dead.
Senior English major Kyle McCormick said he doesn’t understand the need for bump stocks.
“I don’t know why you need bump stocks for anything, because even if you’re using it for hunting, you’re not going to want to pulverize the meat,” McCormick said.
Senate Bill 16 expands the definition of “assault firearms” to include semi-automatic rifles and pistols that carry 10 rounds. The current standard is 20 rounds.
Junior chemistry major Thalia Rosquero said that if a firearm can damage a person to a point that “a surgeon cannot save you,” she believes it should be classified as an assault rifle.
“I feel like they need to reconsider that classification of assault rifles and talk to medical professionals,” Rosquero said, “because they’re the ones who have to save us when we’re on the operating table from a shooting.”
The legal age to buy firearms would be raised to 21 if Senate Bill 18 were passed. The bill also raises the age of transportation of a firearm in the state to 21.
Senators Mamie Locke and Richard Saslaw proposed Senate bills regarding waiting periods for gun purchases. The bill states if the buyer is not a firearms dealer, they cannot purchase more than one handgun in a 30-day period.
Fifth-year computer science major King Martin said sanctuary counties should consider the proposed bills instead of ignoring the legislation in protest.
“At the end of the day, they’re only thinking about their counties, whereas the Virginian government is thinking about the entire state,” Martin said.
Localities in the central region of Virginia:
- Powhatan County
- Nottoway County
- King William County
- New Kent County
Localities in the eastern Virginia:
- Southampton County
- Sussex County
- Dinwiddie County
- Greensville County
- Town of Exmore
Localities in the western Virginia:
- Lee County
- Dickenson County
- Washington County
- Bland County
- Wythe County
- Carroll County
- Patrick County
- Giles County
- Buchanan County
- Russell County
- Town of Rural Retreat
- Tazewell County
Localities in the northern Virginia:
- Madison County
- Culpeper County
- Rappahannock County
- Louisa County
Localities in the Piedmont region of Virginia:
- Appomattox County
- Henry County
- Pittsylvania County
- Botetourt County
- Campbell County
- Charlotte County
- Halifax County
- Roanoke County
- Amherst County