The Second Amendment Sanctuary Movement Is Using The Left’s Playbook

Gun control activists in politicians are doing everything they can to try to tamp down the Second Amendment Sanctuaries spreading like wildfire across the state of Virginia. On Friday morning, the Bloomberg-funded Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action called on law enforcement groups to denounce the more than 100 counties, cities, and towns in the state that have declared (in varying fashion) their opposition to any new gun control laws coming out of Richmond.

Everytown’s Managing Director of Litigation and National Enforcement Policy, Eric Tirschwell, told Virginia television station WHSV that the movement is dangerous.

“If these folks actually follow through on what at this point is really just a threat to not enforce laws, that’s where I think the real danger will reveal itself,” he said.

Tirschwell argues the resolutions are problematic for a number of reasons; most importantly, he says, because they put lives at risk.

“These resolutions could have, and threaten to have, a chilling effect on people who might otherwise use, or take advantage of gun safety laws to try to prevent harm, like a suicide, a homicide or even a mass shooting,” he said.

What’s really amusing about Tirschwell’s argument is that in his position at Everytown for Gun Safety, he’s helping to provide legal support to cities around the country that are passing local gun control ordinances in violation of state firearms preemption laws. From Pittsburgh to Coral Gables to Missoula, Montana, Tirschwell has been working to defend cities that face court challenges after ignoring state law. Everytown for Gun Safety is all in favor of localities having more control over their gun laws, but only if it means more gun control laws.

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As for Tirschwell’s argument itself, it only sounds good if you don’t know the facts. The fact is violent crime increased by 25% after Colorado put expanded the state’s gun control laws in 2013, while violent crime nationally has declined without any new gun laws being put in place. The fact is if you want to prevent harm, you have to target the individual who’s at risk of harming someone. The fact is that infringing on the rights of 100 innocent people in the hopes of stopping one dangerous person isn’t commonsense. It’s tyranny, and there are more effective and constitutionally sound ways to address those individuals than sweeping gun control laws that impact otherwise legal gun owners.

So that was Friday morning’s freakout. Friday afternoon saw the release of Attorney General Mark Herring’s advisory opinion declaring that Second Amendment Sanctuaries have no legal force of law, and once again stating that any new gun laws will be followed in Second Amendment Sanctuaries.

Herring can say what he wants, but he can’t compel sheriffs and commonwealth’s attorneys (not to mention street cops and deputies) to strictly enforce any law. Herring’s also exhibiting a glaring double standard, given his own refusal to enforce and defend a state law he unilaterally decided was unconstitutional. Herring, a proponent of legalizing marijuana (a position I share with him, for the record), also remained silent when prosecutors across the state decided not to prosecute most marijuana cases, even though he now says prosecutors and police can’t pick and choose which laws to enforce.

As I said on Friday:

In other words, when Herring doesn’t like a law, he doesn’t object to law enforcement using their discretion to not enforce it. If, on the other hand, Herring is in favor of the law, he’ll demand that the law be followed.

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Herring spouted off about the Second Amendment Sanctuary movement being driven by “the gun lobby,” but the truth is the Left has provided the playbook for Second Amendment supporters across the state. The national gun groups have had virtually nothing to do with the movement, and even Philip Van Cleave of the Virginia Citizens Defense League says his group isn’t leading the movement, and in fact is having a hard time keeping up with the explosive growth in the state.

“It’s mostly grassroots,” he said. “Localities have passed this that weren’t even on our radar. It’s like a grass fire that the grassroots had started and then we went in and threw some more gasoline and a match on it to make it burn even brighter.”

I really don’t think Virginia’s Democrats and gun control groups were expecting this reaction, and I absolutely believe they are scrambling to figure out how best to respond. The tactic so far has been to talk tough and stay vague, as in Herring’s “The law will be enforced (just don’t ask me how)” comment. I suspect that will be the tone they’ll take right up until any of these laws actually take effect.

What happens then is anyone’s guess, but Ralph Northam, Mark Herring, anti-gun legislators, and gun control activists are making a devastating mistake by underestimating the resolve of Virginia’s gun owners and many of their elected officials to stand in defense of the free exercise of a constitutionally protected right.