Elections, as they say, have consequences. For the first time in more than two decades, Democrats have full control of the General Assembly and the governor’s mansion, and are promising restrictive new gun laws across the commonwealth.
Jerry Falwell, Jr., president of Liberty University in Lynchburg, is none too pleased with Gov. Ralph Northam’s (D) plan to reintroduce eight bills he has argued will “save lives and improve public safety in our communities.” Northam, it should be noted, is the same governor who defended having no restrictions on abortion, even up to full-term.
“I’m pretty sure I’m going to call for civil disobedience if the Democrats go through with this,” said Falwell during an appearance Wednesday on conservative commentator Todd Starnes’ radio show.
He went on to explain he has “never seen the populace more energized” than they are right now in opposition to potential gun control laws.
The list of proposals Northam is seeking to pass would require background checks on all firearm sales and transactions; ban assault-style weapons, high-capacity magazines, bump stocks, and silencers; reinstate Virginia’s dormant law allowing only one handgun purchase within a 30-day window; require stolen or missing weapons to be reported to police within 24 hours; create red-flag laws (also known as Extreme Risk Protective Orders), allowing law enforcement and court officials to temporarily remove firearms from people deemed dangerous to themselves or others; prohibit individuals subject to restraining/protective orders from possessing firearms; escalate the punishment for allowing access to a loaded, unsecured firearm by a child from a class 3 misdemeanor to a class 6 felony; and enable localities to begin enforcing any firearm ordinances that may be stricter than commonwealth laws.
“I’ve never seen such a response from my fellow Virginians, negative response, to any proposal ever out of Richmond,” Falwell told Starnes. “They are up in arms.”
Falwell’s assessment doesn’t seem to be much of an exaggeration. While Lynchburg ultimately bypassed the idea, more than 100 counties, cities, and towns within Virginia have declared themselves “sanctuaries” for the Second Amendment. Some sheriffs across the commonwealth have even vowed to begin deputizing county residents in order to protect their rights to own weapons.
None of this backlash is surprising if you look at just how red Virginia’s political map is — even though Democrats control the Assembly.
The “sanctuary” resolutions garnered so much attention, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (D) issued an advisory in late December, arguing such declarations “have no legal effect.”
“It is my further opinion that localities and local constitutional officers cannot nullify state laws and must comply with gun violence prevention measures that the General Assembly may enact,” he added.
Nevertheless, Falwell is sticking to his guns (metaphorically and literally).
He told Starnes he “will not be surprised” if citizens and law enforcement officers “in a good part of Virginia” simply choose not to enforce whatever bills Northam signs into law.
It is not yet clear what legislation will move forward, given some lawmakers are a bit nervous about signing on to the bill to ban assault weapons — a cornerstone of the gun-control package.
“That’s why I haven’t recommended civil disobedience yet, because I don’t know what the exact legislation is going to be,” said Falwell. “If it’s really bad, I could see supporting something like that. But I think the people are going to decide that on their own.”