Virginia is facing restrictive gun laws in 2020. Almost overnight, the political climate toward firearms has gone from Texas-or New Hampshire-style laws, to New Jersey-or California-style laws.
Proposed Bans and Restrictions
High on the list of proposed laws are measures intended to make the purchase of “assault weapons” illegal. The proposed laws define “assault weapon” by listing features of weapons the law would ban. As written, the law would ban the purchase of most common AR, AK and similar types of weapons. The potential for these weapons to be “grandfathered in” for those who currently own them has been considered, with the caveat that owners register their weapons.
Other proposed laws include: restricting purchase or transfer of magazines capable of holding over 10 rounds, raising the minimum age to purchase any firearm to 21, banning binary triggers, and even a measure with the potential to outlaw some firearms training in the state.
Second Amendment Sanctuary Resolutions
In response to these proposed measures, many Virginia counties and cities have passed Second Amendment Sanctuary resolutions. In most areas, these resolutions are passed by the board of supervisors and stand for the proposition that the county or city will not spend public tax monies enforcing laws that violate the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution, or Article I, Section 13 of the Virginia Constitution (both of which protect an individual’s right to bear arms).
The language of these resolutions varies greatly from county to county. Most resolutions send a strong political statement to lawmakers in Richmond, but are not binding measures and will not change the law in the county or exempt those in the county from prosecution. This means, should the proposed laws pass, enforcement is possible even in Second Amendment Sanctuary counties. State police will still be tasked with enforcing the law as written. Some Virginia lawmakers have even considered using the National Guard to enforce gun laws in counties where the Sheriff refuses to do so. Most Commonwealth Attorneys have currently refused to comment on how they will handle a juxtaposition between state law and the resolution passed by their county.
What Should Virginians Do?
These laws are currently mere proposals; there is still hope some of the potentially unconstitutional measures will be walked back before being ratified by the legislature. Virginians should get involved in local Second Amendment movements and consider joining gun owners in Richmond on January 20th for Lobby Day. In the meantime, lawyers across the state are preparing for the legal challenges these proposed gun laws will entail.
U.S. LawShield members in the state should also begin planning ahead. Determine which of your current weapons may be impacted by the proposed legislation and what to do with those weapons. Do not panic and begin selling weapons now. Any law that may regulate your currently owned weapons is merely a proposal at this time and will likely include a grace period before taking effect. Be sure to pay attention to emails from U.S. LawShield and watch for more legal updates.
For further questions about how the proposed laws may affect weapons you currently own, contact U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to an Independent Program Attorney.