Did Virginia Democrats Awaken a ‘Sleeping Giant’ With Their Anti-Gun Agenda?

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Posted: Nov 28, 2019 3:30 PM
Did Virginia Democrats Awaken a ‘Sleeping Giant’ With Their Anti-Gun Agenda?

Source: AP Photo/Alex Brandon

There’s that famous quote by the late Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto. 

“I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve,” who reportedly wrote this in his diary following the attacks on Pearl Harbor. For decades, the United States tried to maintain a policy of neutrality concerning foreign wars and twice that disposition yanked us into two global conflicts. America’s industrial might was unleashed and millions of men were mobilized to fight a two-front war in what became mankind’s most destructive conflict. Now, there was no sneak attack in the Old Dominion the elicited this response, but the security blanket pro-Second Amendment voters felt was torched after the 2019 elections. The results have appeared to have awakened an electoral sleeping giant: pro-gun rights voters. 

The Trump presidency has led to many squishy GOP voters in the suburbs voting for Democrats. This development, coupled with the Virginia GOP being unable to find candidates who could win statewide and leaving nearly 25 percent of state senate races without a Republican opponent, led to disaster on election night. Virginia Republicans only had a two-seat majority in the House of Delegates and a one-seat majority in the state senate. For the first time in two decades, the Democrats control all in Richmond.

Over the summer, they gave away their playbook with that special session pitch that was torpedoed by Republicans. Yet, their agenda includes magazine limits, universal background checks, a ban on so-called assault weapons, and a mandatory date to turn such firearms over to authorities. Gun confiscation is on the docket. With that in mind, scores of Virginia counties are now declaring themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries at an unprecedented rate. Stephen Gutowski of the Washington Free Beacon interview Philip Van Cleave of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, a state-based pro-gun rights advocacy organization, who said a “sleeping giant” has been awakened with the latest election results:

"I've never seen anything like this, and I've been doing this for over 20 years," he told the Free Beacon. "It's a sleeping giant that had been pretty much not paying attention to politics, and now they're awake, and now they're flooding these sanctuary county hearings. Flooding them."

Sparked by Democrats' capture of the Virginia legislature three weeks ago, the sanctuary movement has already passed resolutions similar to VCDL's model in nearly a quarter of the state's counties. The movement could give newly elected Democrats from more moderate jurisdictions pause when considering new gun control bills—especially the confiscation plan supported by Governor Ralph Northam (D.). The sanctuary proposals could also set up a showdown between state and local officials if the former adopt new gun bans or a confiscation scheme.

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"It's sending a huge message to the General Assembly that a lot of the state does not want more gun control, certainly none of the crap that they're pushing that does nothing but affect law abiding citizens," he said. "It doesn't do anything for criminals."

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"They're gonna go ‘whoa, hey, if I vote for that bill you won't have a Democrat delegate in this county for the next decade,'" Van Cleave said. "All we have to do is turn a few Democrats and these bills aren't going to go anywhere."

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Van Cleave said he expects a majority of the state's counties to adopt a sanctuary policy in the coming months, and his group plans to target Virginia's sheriffs and commonwealth attorneys as well.

"It's part of a multiple prong approach," he said. "A lot of sheriffs, and even chiefs of police, are going to be watching what localities do. Some of the sheriffs have said, ‘if my locality does this then I'm going to go along with it.' Then, if we get commonwealth attorneys to say ‘I'm not prosecuting this stuff,' well, that closes the loop at least in the county."

Van Cleave and the VCDL are effective. They are aggressive. And there’s no doubt he will keep fighting in the trenches until a more gun-friendly legislature is sworn in during the next election cycle. Even then, the work isn’t done. The GOP used to have a supermajority in the House of Delegates. That flipped in less than a decade. 

So far, 15 of the states 95 counties have become Second Amendment sanctuary counties. This is going to be a long slog, and it serves as a reminder that threats to the Second Amendment came from anywhere, even in states that were once thought to be reliably Republican. You can never let your guard down against the anti-gun Left. They have scored some state-based wins. They will continue on that path. Fix bayonets, load those magazines, and dig in because this fight has only just begun in Virginia.