The New Virginia Gun Laws: Are They Too Tough?

Since January 13, 2018, the seat of governor in the state of Virginia has been held by Ralph Northam, a strong-handed democratic politician who ran on a strict anti-gun base. In recent months these ambitions came to fruition with the pushing of two gun bills that have been sent to state legislation, with the most likely to pass being bill 69 which would enforce a “one gun a month” that will limit handgun purchases to one every 30 day period.  This law seems only to make the lives of gun collectors more difficult, as I can not see any other purpose to the law.

The second and more radical law is the “Red Flag Law” or the “Gun Violence Restraining Orders and Extreme Risk Protection Orders,” the specific law in Virginia being Bill 69. This bill was created with good intentions, as it would allow individuals to report a possibly mentally unstable person who has access to a firearm. However, in its current form, the law would be unconstitutional, as it could violate the second, fourth, fifth, and sixth amendments  of the Bill of Rights.

The way the law was written and how it is supposed to enforced allow for a misuse of the system, allowing someone to submit a false report, to which the police would respond in the manner that the law says is correct. This could include the restraining of the person and the confiscation of the firearm without giving the person the opportunity to defend themselves.

Imagine this, you own a few guns as a law-abiding adult citizen, but your neighbor doesn’t like you. So now that neighbor has the ability to call the police and tell them that you are an unstable individual with access to guns. In theory, now the police could arrive at your house to arrest you, without you even knowing what is happening.

You may then need to defend yourself in a court of law, or else all of your guns might be taken away. Then, even if you defend yourself and convince the judge you are sane and in right mind, your neighbor may face no consequence. Does that sound fair to you?

Many of these proposed bills have upset the “2a” communities in Virginia. In response local militias, activist groups, and concerned citizens planned a rally at the state capitol to show that they do not approve of these proposed laws. The rally itself consisted of some 22,000 attendants, the majority of which where open carrying. Open carrying is the act of carrying a firearm on one’s person in plain view. In spite of this, the crowd was generally peaceful.

The rally itself was not without problems, however, with four total arrests, three of which occurred before the rally had started. 3 men, part of a white nationalist group were planning to conduct multiple attacks across the capitol with the intent to “start a second civil war.” The fourth arrest was much less serious, a 21 year old woman who was arrested for wearing a mask in public during the rally. 

Along with this rally, some counties in Virginia have also voted to become “second amendment sanctuaries.” These declarations generally mean that the sheriffs or police chiefs in these counties will not enforce “unconstitutional laws,” and that if the state government tried to to take firearms by force, then citizens may be deputized to protect their rights.

The lawmakers and governor Northam have  ignored this clear protest and pushed the bills through anyway. This story is definitely one to watch as it continues to unfold, regardless of your opinion on the issue.