Virginia Gun Owners Remain Defiant Under Pressure from VA Attorney General, Governor

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has offered gun owners a “compromise” on the “assault weapons” ban bill. (Photo: Gov. Northam Facebook)

Gun owners in Virginia have remained defiant under pressure from their state’s governor and attorney general as anti-gun forces throughout the government work to minimize the impact of the Second Amendment sanctuary movement and offer compromises designed to deflate the effort.

“[We are] not going to accept anything but the complete defeat of all gun bills that in anyway [sic], shape, or form, affect law-abiding gun owners in a negative way,” Philip Van Cleave, the President of the gun rights group Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL), said in an email to supporters.

Van Cleave has helped foster a grassroots effort in Virginia to declare much of the state a Second Amendment sanctuary in the wake of the Democratic takeover of the state legislature earlier this year. Thus far, 59 counties, towns, and cities have jumped on board, but the movement has begun to face opposition from the highest levels of state government.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring both downplayed the movement and voiced an implicit threat in an interview with ABC 8News.

“I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Herring said, when asked whether localities would actually refuse to enforce new gun laws. “These laws, when they get passed, they’re going to be followed and when you look at the resolutions that are being passed, they’re really just expressions of opposition to these gun safety measures that Virginians have demanded for a long time.”

“When you talk to those who are in law enforcement and really push them a little bit, like a sheriff or a prosecutor and say, ‘So, really? You mean you’re going to allow violent felons to go ahead and purchase firearms?’ No. They back down pretty quickly.”

SEE ALSO: ‘They’ve Awoken a Giant’: 20+ Virginia Counties Become 2A Sanctuaries Overnight

Herring failed to name a law enforcement official who had “backed down pretty quickly,” but so far none have come forward to oppose the Second Amendment sanctuary movement.

Herring is right that county sheriffs and attorneys general are independently elected in Virginia, and most sanctuary resolutions are not binding on those local law enforcement officials. But Van Cleave noted in an interview with GunsAmerica that many sheriffs follow the county’s lead in these matters, and some have voiced explicit support for the Second Amendment sanctuary movement.

Culpepper County Sheriff Scott Jenkins, for instance, vowed to deputize county residents to protect their right to keep and bear arms.

“Every Sheriff and Commonwealth Attorney in Virginia will see the consequences if our General Assembly passes further unnecessary gun restrictions,” he said in a Facebook post. “I remain very optimistic that our General Assembly will not pass the proposed bills. Obviously, if passed, there are many of us willing to challenge these laws through the courts. In addition, if necessary, I plan to properly screen and deputize thousands of our law-abiding citizens to protect their constitutional right to own firearms.”

Rather than threaten the budding gun rights movement, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has extended what appears to be a concession. The governor has reportedly backed a version of an “assault weapons” ban that includes a grandfather clause for those who already own the firearms. Those rifles would still have to be registered with the state, but an earlier version of the legislation filed by Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw included no grandfather clause (SB 16).

SEE ALSO: Here’s the List of Bills Anti-Gunners Plan to Enact in Virginia

But Van Cleave and the VCDL saw Northam’s move coming, and they vowed not to compromise.

A day before Northam’s office announced his support of a grandfather clause, the VCDL sent an email anticipating the “concession.”

“The next step for Saslaw will be to offer to ‘grandfather’ existing gun owners, thinking that gun owners would be stupid enough, and selfish enough, to accept such a ‘compromise’ in exchange for passing SB 16 or its ilk,” Van Cleave said. “Once passed into law, gun controllers hope that gun owners will go back to sleep so the gun-control agenda can keep moving forward without massive opposition.

“Will VCDL accept such a ‘compromise?’

“Oh, HELL no.”

Gun rights groups in Virginia have their work cut out for them. More than a dozen gun control bills have been pre-filed before the 2020 legislative session begins on January 8.

Virginia residents wanting to reach their state elected officials can do so here. The VCDL is also encouraging gun owners throughout the state to attend their lobby day in Richmond on Monday, January 20.

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About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over six years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Tyler. Got a hot tip? Send him an email at jordan@gunsamerica.com.

{ 25 comments… add one }
  • JOHN CHARLES WILLIAMS January 16, 2020, 10:33 am

    An interesting question. Where does President Trump stand? I bet he is NOT a 2A supporter. I am though, so I tend to vote Libertarian.

    • Janet Tomkins November 28, 2020, 2:28 pm

      ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Trump is the strongest second amendment supporter in the white house since Teddy Roosevelt. If you vote Libertarian you are voting your second amendment rights away, because that is one more vote that Trump didn’t get. Pay attention to what the candidates say and do. Do NOT just listen to the main stream media or social media because 98% of them are totally opposed to the second amendment. Biden strongly supported the ‘assault weapons’ ban under Clinton and has promoted gun control and gun confiscation since the 1980’s. When he says that he supports the 2nd amendment it is a big fat lie because his actions have shown the opposite for decades.

  • Steve in Detroit December 15, 2019, 8:22 am

    Registration is one step closer to confiscation.

  • Gary Guest December 14, 2019, 6:06 pm

    According to a quote from the AG felons are allowed to purchase fireams? If that’s the case the citizens need to be armed. In my state felons are not allowed to possess a firearm of any kind.

    • MadDog Mike December 16, 2019, 6:06 pm

      Sounds like the AG is as big an idiot as the Governor!!

  • Quis Custodiet December 14, 2019, 3:24 pm

    Soy Boy politicians say my semiautomatic rifles are “weapons of war”. For the first time, I think they may be right.

  • j December 14, 2019, 2:08 pm

    Just a reminder: These folks VOTED FOR the ashoes down in Richmond. Better pay more attention to the contents of that voting packet.

    • David Einspahr November 28, 2020, 2:31 pm

      And when it is election season again, let everybody else know what you think and why. We have enough ignorant fools voting already. Educate some of them and support the constitution.

  • Gary Drake December 14, 2019, 7:27 am

    To pass a bill, any bill, and then start talking compromise when you realize you’ve awaken the silent majority of law abiding citizens by threatening them with military force, is not just bad governing, but you are showing what the 2nd amendment is all about——-protecting the rights of all from a tyrannical govt.——- You politicians are arguing about what a militia is……….you’ve now created one.

  • Dwane December 14, 2019, 7:13 am

    Ask the AG or the Gov. about sanctuary cities and Maryjane use. I bet those two are all out for sanctuary cities and protecting the illegal immigrant in opposition to federal law. As far a marijuana goes, it’s still a federal offense.

  • David Kent December 13, 2019, 6:39 pm

    If you’re foolish enough to register your guns, you may as well take the bar code tattoo and microchip while you’re at it.

  • John December 13, 2019, 4:12 pm

    I heartedly applaud the people of Virginia for having the courage needed to tell the state government “HELL NO!” to any further arms regulations for any reason whatsoever. Why hasn’t anyone with some political clout demanded that the state actually prove they have the lawful authority to violate the 2A via their so-called police power. Trying to persuade the public to accept some absurd compromise is nothing but a smokescreen to gain further control of all firearms, lawful or not, it makes no difference to the gun-grabbers.

    After more than 50 years of government lies and empty promises, what have we gun-owners ever gotten in return except for ever-tightening regulations and penalties for only abiding by the rights they swore to uphold and protect. There is nothing in the 2A that allows for gun registration, so many guns a month, waiting periods or type of firearm we may keep and bear. The Law says “….shall not be infringed.” I am plainly fed up with my rights being denied and I being treated like a potential felon for simply exercising my Constitutionally protected lawful Rights. We should stop asking for permission like slaves and start acting like the American sovereigns we are!

  • Sylvester December 13, 2019, 3:15 pm

    Well,they voted for democrats what did they expect. Virginia voters had a perfect chance this past election to vote for conservatives. They blew it. They also blew a perfect chance to kick out what’s his face in black face.
    They let a good scandal go to waste.

  • Frauddoctor December 13, 2019, 2:33 pm

    Let’s see, VA is also calling for the state national guard to enforce the liberal gun laws against it citizenry. In other words, the highest LEO in the state (the AG) is calling for the use of military force against its citizens for standing up for their Constitutional rights. I’m thinking that will play for the Dems about as well as the current impeachment fiasco. What’s that ol’ saying: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome? My only question is, “Why in the hell does anyone still vote Democrat?” And more pointedly, “Why in the hell does any GUN OWNER STILL VOTE DEMOCRAT?” Wake up, folks, the Dems are NOT your friends! The Dems are NOT looking out for your best interests. If you vote Dem, why are you still a gun owner? That’s like being Pro-Life and voting for Pelosi and Schumer. Wake people, your rights are not being taken from you. You are willingly handing them over every time for vote Democrat. Ask yourself this: What democrat politician out there are you willing to give up your civil rights for? What Dem is so wonderful and right minded that you are willing to sacrifice your civil right so you can be blessed by their time in office? When push comes to shove there are few if any Dems who will buck the party line to protect you!

  • skipNclair December 13, 2019, 2:23 pm

    Get even more defiant, gather thousands swarm the capital steps, drag him from your office, give him a trial and upon conviction, hang or shoot this traitor on the steps, and feed his bones to the hogs, Send the nation a message traitors will be dealt with accordingly, and we the people are the judge, jury and executioner.

  • Land Warfare December 13, 2019, 12:43 pm

    I hope this gets out with the word in Lobby Day, VCDL is chartering buses to bring people from the farthest corners of Va. There is a cost but it’s less than a tank of gas $35.

    • Floyd December 13, 2019, 8:34 pm

      Civil war is coming !

  • The SGM December 13, 2019, 10:53 am

    ” their state’s governor and attorney general as anti-gun forces throughout the government work to minimize the impact of the Second Amendment sanctuary movement and offer compromises designed to deflate the effort.”
    The Government working to subvert the will of the people.

  • Michael December 13, 2019, 9:24 am

    So many Americans do not know the history of gun control in this country and why our founding fathers were so emphatic about maintaining a right to personal self defense and defense against a dictatorial “govern”ment. One of the first things the British army did was to confiscate personal weapons and take charge over centralized state and local armories/gun powder storage sites in order to prevent the colonists from being able to fight back against the King’s draconian rule. I. Like most real Americans, applaud Virginians’ attempts to regain control of their 2nd Amendment Rights. Unfortunately, it is so much harder to regain lost rights, then to protect them in the first place. The pending impeachment of President Donald Trump is just another example of Democrats attempting an end run around a duly elected President, simply because they hate him and are so disappointed that their candidate wasn’t elected in 2016. Stand strong Virginians – take back your state from the demorats.l

    • samuel meola December 13, 2019, 9:16 pm

      VIRGINIA RESIDENTS DO NOT GIVE THE GOVERNOR OR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL ANY CHANCE GET THEM REMOVED THEY WERE VOTED IN KICK THEM OUT.

  • TOM December 13, 2019, 9:04 am

    It’s up to 91 counties & municipalities as of last night! The dems will be getting any legislation, shoved up their asses!

  • Joseph Burge December 13, 2019, 7:48 am

    1. Laws only affect legal gun owners. Grabbers will finally get the reaction they want from revealing their ultimate goal, disarming everyone except criminal.

    2. Registration is ALWAYS followed by confiscation. It happened in California. If anyone is stupid enough to actually think once they have a list, they will stop there, you deserve what is coming.

    • Godfrey Daniel December 13, 2019, 12:45 pm

      Yes sir. Give an inch, take a mile.

  • Jaque December 11, 2019, 9:28 am

    EVERY States Communist gun grabbers leadership are watching events in Virginia closely. So is Law enforcement, especially Federal agencies. You can bet the pro gun forces in Virginia are heavily infiltrated by ATF and FBI informants who were babies when Ruby Ridge went down.

    Russiagate has shown us what out of control federal forces will do. There will be a showdown no doubt if active measures are used against otherwise law abiding gun owners who resist the communist state governments gun ban and confiscation moves.

    One thing is certain. We are one election away from Communist Tyranny, courtesy the Democrat Party

    • Dan December 13, 2019, 7:23 am

      That’s probably right.
      That AG sounds like a typical dumocrat who talks off topic to distract from the real issue by asking a totally unrelated question.

      “When you talk to those who are in law enforcement and really push them a little bit, like a sheriff or a prosecutor and say, ‘So, really? You mean you’re going to allow violent felons to go ahead and purchase firearms?’ No. They back down pretty quickly.”

      Allowing felons to buy guns is totally unrelated to this issue, and something he just made up as a distraction away from the real issue.
      Of course, that probably never even really happened anyway…

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