Arnold Ahlert / Dec. 5, 2019

Gun-Grabbing Virginia Democrats

Defiance of the Constitution and the Supreme Court is the ultimate act of vigilantism.

“Hell yes. We’re going to take your AR-15.” —former Democrat presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke stating his position on the Second Amendment at the presidential primary debate in Houston, Sept. 12, 2019

Beginning in 2020, the once-red state of Virginia will be completely controlled by Democrats, who won both houses of the state legislature in 2019. They join Democrat Gov. Ralph Northam, who beat GOP candidate Ed Gillespie in 2017. And just like Beto O'Rourke — and precisely like the the expression Democrats insist is nothing more than a “right-wing talking point” — Virginia Democrats are “coming for your guns.”

On Nov. 18, State Sen. Dick Saslaw introduced SB 16. As its summary explains, the definition of “assault firearm” will be “expanded.” The bill also “prohibits any person from importing, selling, transferring, manufacturing, purchasing, possessing, or transporting an assault firearm,” and “a dealer from selling, renting, trading, or transferring from his inventory an assault firearm to any person.”

Violation of the law will constitute a Class 6 felony for which the penalties include “a term of imprisonment of not less than one year nor more than five years, or in the discretion of the jury or the court trying the case without a jury, confinement in jail for not more than 12 months and a fine of not more than $2,500, either or both,” according to the state code.

The bill also prohibits a person “from carrying a shotgun with a magazine that will hold more than seven rounds of the longest ammunition for which it is chambered in a public place,” overriding a provision that currently applies “only in certain localities.” Moreover, any Virginian who attempts to “import, sell, barter, or transfer any firearm magazine designed to hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition” will be subject to a Class 1 misdemeanor that can result in “confinement in jail for not more than twelve months and a fine of not more than $2,500, either or both.”

How expansive is the definition of “assault firearm?” As columnist Jed Babbin explains, “Every rifle of the common AR-15 design and a great many pistols and shotguns in common use for personal defense, target shooting, and hunting would be banned.” And just like Beto O'Rourke envisioned, Babbin adds that such firearms “also would have to be either surrendered to, or seized by police authorities in the jurisdiction in which they are located.”

In November, Gov. Northam, who emerged unscathed from both an inquiry regarding a picture in which he confessed to and then denied wearing blackface, and comments in support of post-birth abortion, remained vague regarding outright confiscation. “That’s something I’m working [on] with our secretary of public safety,” he told reporters. “I’ll work with the gun-violence activists, and we’ll work [on] that. I don’t have a definitive plan today.”

One suspects such vagueness is no accident, considering the reality that SB 16 would essentially turn a cohort of currently law-abiding Virginians into potential felons. Potential felons who might make plans to resist fascism masquerading itself as “common sense” gun control.

In fact, some Virginians are already taking a proactive stand, using a concept straight out of the American Left’s playbook: More than a dozen Virginia counties have declared themselves to be Second Amendment “sanctuaries” in response to the legislative gun grab. The latest addition to the list is Botetourt County, whose Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to join the movement whereby they would reject “any provision, law, or regulation that may infringe, have the tendency to infringe, or place any additional burdens on the right of law-abiding citizens to bear arms.”

Unsurprisingly, The Washington Post characterizes this sanctuary movement as vigilantism with an “alluring tingle of defiance and frontier justice.” Moreover, the Post makes a distinction between this movement and the more than 500 sanctuary jurisdictions that protect illegal aliens in defiance of federal law. “The distinction between the two sanctuaries is basic,” the Post asserts. “Localities that have passed resolutions declaring themselves Second Amendment sanctuary jurisdictions are threatening to ignore laws enacted by duly elected state legislatures and signed by governors. Immigration-focused sanctuary localities are breaking no law; rather, they are refusing purely voluntary cooperation in service to federal law enforcement. And, in practice, sanctuary cities often do — and should — fully coordinate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement in cases involving violent felons such as murderers and rapists.”

Utter nonsense. In 2014, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the 5-3 majority that struck down key provisions of the 2010 Arizona law attempting to regulate illegal immigration, stated that Arizona “may not pursue policies that undermine federal law.” Sanctuary city non-cooperation policies epitomize the undermining of federal law. Moreover, these jurisdictions often don’t coordinate with ICE in cases involving violent felons, as ICE’s latest publication of information regarding the release of individuals detained for serious criminal offenses in Maryland’s Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties indicates.

In 2018, Northam made it clear where he stood regarding sanctuary cities, vetoing a bill that would have prohibited the establishment of them in his state. “This legislation would force local law enforcement agencies to use precious resources to perform functions that are the responsibility of federal immigration enforcement agencies,” Northam wrote in a statement accompanying the veto. “It also sends a chilling message to communities across Virginia that could have negative impacts on public safety.”

Government-enforced gun confiscation is a far more chilling message. And while the Post insists it would only apply if the legislature enacts a “red flag” bill, there is no way the paper can obscure the details of soon-to-be-illegal guns that fall under the aforementioned expanded definition of assault firearm, including a “semi-automatic center-fire rifle that expels single or multiple projectiles,” a “semi-automatic center-fire pistol that expels single or multiple projectiles,” a “shotgun with a revolving cylinder that expels single or multiple projectiles,” and a “semi-automatic shotgun that expels single or multiple projectiles.”

In other words, the incrementalism that began with Democrats speaking solely in terms of “assault rifles” in general, and the AR-15 in particular, has now expanded to pistols and shotguns Virginia Democrats consider problematic.

In 2008, the Supreme Court decision in District of Columbia v. Heller made it clear the right to bear arms wasn’t the vigilantism The Washington Post asserts it is, but rather the inalienable right the Constitution codifies — one unconstrained by the phrase “well-regulated militia.” “The Constitution leaves the District of Columbia a variety of tools for combating [handgun violence], including some measures regulating handguns,” the late Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the majority. “But the enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table. These include the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home.”

Will the Virginia legislature and Gov. Northam defy SCOTUS? If so, isn’t defiance of the Constitution and the Supreme Court the ultimate act of vigilantism?

Hell yes!

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