A pro-gun movement sweeping hundreds of counties across the country doesn’t have much legal ground to stand on and is causing a heap of confusion for those who are die-hard supporters of it, officials in one Virginia county said amongst themselves in emails months ago.
Tazewell County officials were discussing the idea of their jurisdiction becoming a “sanctuary county” in November, weeks before the county board officially passed a resolution declaring itself one in December. On that same evening, the county board also voted to authorize the promotion of a militia, the Bristol Herald-Courier reported.
One of the officials involved in discussing the matter wrote in an email that there was immense confusion over what the sanctuary county law entailed. “We are getting calls from people who believe this resolution has swept away ALL gun laws in the County,” county administrator Eric Young wrote, according to the Washington Post.
One of those calls was from a couple who had previously been told they couldn’t sell guns, but who believed the sanctuary county “rule” would allow them to do so.
The “sanctuary county” movement seeks to act as a counter toward calls for tighter and more restrictive gun laws in states across the nation. Counties pass resolutions, calling themselves “sanctuaries” for individuals who believe in a less restrictive Second Amendment right to own or purchase a gun.
Virginia Senate approves "red flag" law allowing temporary seizure of guns from someone deemed a threat https://t.co/pfAMZwSvnG
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) January 22, 2020
Hundreds of counties across the nation have passed such resolutions, which are symbolic in nature and don’t have any actual force of law against enforcing state or federal laws on gun ownership.
In Virginia, a number of counties have done so in response to the state legislature’s recent bills on guns. The General Assembly passed bills this month, expected to be signed by Gov. Ralph Northam, that expand background checks, confiscate guns from owners in emergency situations (immediate threats of harm to others or harm to self), and limiting how many handguns a person can purchase within a single calendar month.
The bills could be signed and implemented to take effect as early as this summer, TIME reported.