By all appearances, Governor Northam of Virginia is trying to start Civil War Two.
Northam has already inflamed his own citizens by calls for gun confiscation, and some other members of the State Assembly have suggested activating and sending out the National Guard to enforce unpopular gun legislation.
Northam’s rhetoric has already caused 102 counties and cities in Virginia to pass Second Amendment sanctuary laws that prevent local government from expending tax funds or resources on enforcing laws passed by the state that citizens feel violate the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.
When the Virginia Civil Defense League (VCDL) announced that it would be holding its annual lobby day on January 20, 2020, proponents of the sanctuary laws and citizens residing in the localities vowed to show up as a sign of their displeasure and opposition to laws already on the docket for the 2020 legislative session. This surge of participation in the annual lobby day held by VCDL garnered national attention from gun rights groups, defendants of the Constitution, and bloggers in the gun rights blogosphere to rally behind the effort.
Since Democrats gained control of the Virginia state Legislature in November, they have moved swiftly to introduce legislation on gun control. On Monday, January 13, several similar gun control bills on the docket were merged and quickly passed through the Senate Judiciary Committee, ratcheting up the momentum of the gun control initiative proposed and supported by Governor Northam. As popular opposition has increased, so has the pace of gun control legislation proposed by the all-Democrat leadership in the Assembly.
The political question of states’ rights versus constitutionally protected individual rights seems ripe for federal intervention to reduce the heat of the debate, but that has not been forthcoming. The VCDL annual lobby day looms as a confrontation between the Democrat-run legislature and the citizens of the state. They are not alone.
With gun control legislation being a priority in many states that have recently swung blue instead of red, Second Amendment sanctuaries have popped up all over the United States. In Colorado, this tactic to pass Second Amendment sanctuaries started last year, when recently elected Governor Polis supported and eventually passed red flag laws.
The backlash of citizens doing everything legally possible to forestall gun control legislation has had no tempering effect on legislators. In fact, rhetoric as to the Democrats’ pursuit of gun control legislation has increased, and on Monday, they used the legislative agenda to further all but one of the gun control measures.
What is missing, in this legal back-and-forth, is any sense of political compromise so often praised by Republicans when they are forced to accept liberal policies. Compromise is a two-way street, one on which Governor Northam and the Democrat Legislature refuse to tread.
Much of the controversy has played out on the internet. When members and sympathizers of the VCDL began to plan their journeys to the state capitol on their web page, legislators quickly passed legislation that banned firearms within the capitol building, a move angering Republican legislators who often carried firearms for their own protection into the capitol. Next, recognizing that many attendees of the VCDL annual lobby day planned to bring their weapons with them on the journey, Governor Northam sought to ban firearms on the grounds of the state capitol.
This is not what most Americans recognize as typical political behavior. In the past, it was more common for politicians, when faced with overwhelming unpopularity of a given policy or legislation, to modify their stance, accept a reasonable compromise, or amend or pull the offending legislation. Not this time, and not in Virginia, which leads one to conclude that Governor Northam and the Democrat Legislature intend to precipitate a confrontation with gun rights groups and their own citizens.
West Virginia has taken notice (h/t: American Partisan) and sees in the hostility of the capitol for the people of the state as mirroring its decision in 1863 to break away from Virginia and create the state of West Virginia. The Legislature of West Virginia introduced a concurrent resolution on January 14, 2020 inviting the disaffected counties and localities of Virginia to file for relocation into West Virginia.
The whole nation is watching the political events taking place in Virginia.
Whether West Virginia is making a formal attempt to realign state boundaries or not, the idea of it, the concept of splitting Virginia along different lines, is a result of ham-handed policies by Governor Northam, himself apparently unbowed by the opposition they create.
Populations of other states, who feel unrepresented by liberal majorities in cities, have proposed similar actions, notably the idea of the State of Jefferson in Northern California and Southern Oregon and, in 2013, the State of Northern Colorado in Eastern Colorado. Texas, as recently as the governorship of Rick Perry, suggested secession altogether. None of these were seriously considered in previous years, but if Governor Northam continues in his unbending drive to alienate half of the population of Virginia and West Virginia is successful in wooing those populations into voting themselves into West Virginia, these ideas will be given renewed energy. Does this not signal a second Civil War, and what role will gun confiscation legislation play?