Fauquier County is the latest in Virginia to declare it would defy any new gun legislation passed by the state legislature’s incoming Democratic majority.
The county’s board of supervisors voted unanimously this week to adopt a resolution designating Fauquier as a “Constitutional County.” Fauquier’s resolution says the county vigorously opposes any measure that “infringes upon the right to keep and bear arms.”
The declaration differs virtually only in name from similar designations among the more than two dozen Virginia counties that have dubbed themselves “Second Amendment sanctuaries.”
Legal experts say the proclamations are largely symbolic, and that law enforcement agencies cannot legally refuse to uphold the law. Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring has said such laws have no “legal effect.”
While it’s illegal to enforce so-called “Second Amendment sanctuary” resolutions, gun rights advocates across the state have urged local lawmakers to continue passing such acts.
Rich Schragger, a professor at the University of Virginia School of Law, told WAMU earlier this month that the resolutions underscore Republicans’ concerns surrounding tighter gun regulations that are expected to pass when Democrats take control of the state legislature next month.
Democrats captured majorities in Virginia’s House and Senate for the first time in two decades due — in no small part — to sizable investments from gun control advocates. In turn, they have promised to fight for gun control measures that their Republican predecessors have stalled.
“There is some push in the General Assembly to pass some amount of gun control legislation,” Schragger said. “I think that what you’re seeing in these counties, which are mostly red-leaning counties, is a political effort to try to push back a little bit.”
Prince William County, Stafford County and about two dozen others have declared themselves refuges from new gun laws; several more are slated to discuss similar proposals in the coming weeks.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D), meanwhile, has said he plans to reintroduce a raft of gun safety proposals as early as January, including universal background checks and a handgun purchasing limit of one per month.
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