PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. — More Virginia counties and cities are considering proposals to establish themselves as "Second Amendment Sanctuaries" in the Commonwealth.
Second Amendment Sanctuaries are communities that have declared they will not use their public funds to enforce federal and state laws they believe will curtail citizens’ gun rights.
The movement gained steam in the weeks following the Democrats’ electoral victories in the Virginia Senate and House. In November, Democrats took control of both chambers.
Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart said many Virginia gun owners became worried when state Democrats began to voice their support to introduce more gun control bills in Richmond.
"I believe inadvertently the Democrats have stepped on a landmine," Stewart said. "They're going to regret it. They've really stirred up the hornet's nest here."
On Tuesday, Stewart announced plans to introduce a bill that would call for Prince William County to establish itself as a Second Amendment Sanctuary. The resolution will come up for a vote on Dec. 10.
Stewart said roughly 30 counties and cities in the Commonwealth have already approved similar resolutions.
"There's a groundswell of support for localities to defend the Second Amendment rights of the citizens," he said.
Gloucester and Culpeper Counties voted to approve Second Amendment Sanctuary status Tuesday. Some gun advocates in Virginia Beach and Fairfax Counties have attempted to get their leaders to follow suit as well.
Stewart said he believes Virginia communities are not breaking the law if they choose to seek sanctuary status.
"We're not actually conflicting with any state or federal law," he said. "All we're saying is we're not going to use local law enforcement resources to enforce a new state law that would curb the Second Amendment rights of our citizens."
But, in Prince William County, Stewart’s effort will likely be slowed down even if it does get the approval of the Board of Supervisors.
Ann Wheeler, Prince William County Board Chair-Elect, recently released a statement saying she will oppose the county’s potential sanctuary status when she takes office.
"I want to be clear – any efforts by the outgoing board to hamper the enforcement of new gun safety legislation passed in Virginia will be immediately repealed when the new Board takes office in January," Wheeler said.
The movement to increase the number of sanctuary communities in Virginia has been fueled, in part, by a group named the Virginia Citizens Defense League [VCDL]. It has encouraged interested Virginians to reach out to their respective board supervisors and send them a link to a model Second Amendment Sanctuary resolution created by VCDL.
But lobby groups aren’t the only ones who have worked to promote the effort. Some Virginia law enforcement leaders have joined the push for sanctuary status as well.
Sheriff Scott Jenkins, of Culpeper County, released a statement Wednesday, critical of efforts by some Virginia lawmakers to introduce gun control laws he finds to be unnecessary in the Commonwealth.
"I'd like to thank our Board of Supervisors for their resolution of support of our citizen’s natural right to self defense as protected by our Constitutions," he said.