Lawmaker says weigh-in from Herring on 2A sanctuary ensures that future gun legislation 'complies' with law

Calling it a "flashpoint" across Virginia, a member of the Virginia House of Delegates is asking state Attorney General Mark Herring for an opinion about the surge of "Second Amendment Sanctuary" resolutions acted on and proposed before local governing bodies — including two counties in the Tri-City area — in advance of the 2020 legislative session.

In his letter, Del. Jay Jones, D-Norfolk, likened the movement led by gun-rights groups to the period prior to the Civil War.

"The legal precedent we would set by allowing communities to selectively ignore those laws is alarming and indicative of the same mindset that nearly 150 years ago led this country to dissolve into a civil war," Jones wrote to Herring in the letter dated Monday. Jones said that while he understood that the resolutions being passed are non-binding, the precedent they are setting hints of rebellion by the localities against the General Assembly.

"If the duly elected General Assembly passes measures to advance gun safety in the commonwealth, I believe the legislature should be able to do so without actions by localities to undermine its efforts," the letter read.

"This issue has become a llashpoint across our state — it deserves and requires immediate attention."

 The 2A movement, as it has become called, was started by gun-rights supporters following last month's legislative elections when Democrats gained control of both the House and state Senate. Earlier this year, Democrats unsuccessfully tried to get gun-control legislation through. Now, with the Democrats having both majorities in 2020, gun-rights groups have expressed concerns that the gun-control legislation will get through.

The groups began petitioning local governments, particularly in rural Virginia, to pass non-binding resolutions expressing their support of the Second Amendment. So far, 20 localities, including Dinwiddie and Sussex counties, have adopted such resolutions, and more are expected before the Assembly convenes next month.

In the letter, Jones wrote that an opinion from Herring on the movement would be "helpful and instructive" to local governing bodies, and give state legislators a legal boost when contemplating gun laws.

"It is critical that we in the General Assembly know the stance of our state's attorney general on this issue, so that any legislation passed on the subject both addresses and complies with its official opinion," Jones wrote.

Del. Lashrecse D. Aird, D-Petersburg, who represents Dinwiddie County in the House, retweeted Jones' letter, adding her support for it.

"I am eager for clarity on this issue as well," Aird tweeted.

Bill Atkinson can be reached at batkinson@progress-index.com or 804-722-5167. On Twitter: @BAtkinsonpi