RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has responded to the trend of Virginia counties passing Second Amendment sanctuary resolutions ahead of next year’s General Assembly, saying they are being "ginned up by the gun lobby" and that any new gun laws passed will be enforced.
Following the November's election, which saw Democrats take control of both the state House and Senate, the expectation is lawmakers will pass a number of gun control measures in 2020 for Democratic Governor Ralph Northam to sign.
Northam has said that Democrats would start with the legislation he introduced for a special session on gun control this past summer. Republicans, who held the majority at the time, ended the session after 90 minutes.
In response to this expectation, Republican-leaning counties around Virginia have passed resolutions declaring themselves to be Second Amendment sanctuaries and voiced opposition to any future laws that may infringe upon Second Amendment rights.
Last week, Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, a gun rights group, told CBS 6 in a statement that the "flood of Second Amendment sanctuary localities across the state, and the massive crowds at those government meetings, is sending a message to the General Assembly that Virginia does not need any more unconstitutional gun control."
Speaking to CBS 6 on Wednesday, Herring said when the General Assembly passes gun control legislation those laws will be enforced.
"The resolutions that are being passed are being ginned up by the gun lobby to try to scare people. What we’re talking about here are laws that will make our communities and our streets safer. We’re talking about universal background checks, finally, maybe, Virginia will pass universal background checks to make sure that people who are dangerous, who are criminals and who aren’t permitted to buy guns, won’t be able to buy guns," said Herring. "So, when Virginia passes these gun safety laws that they will be followed, they will be enforced."
At least one Democratic lawmaker, Del. Jay Jones (D - 89th) has said he wanted a formal opinion from Herring on the issue of Second Amendment sanctuary resolutions. In a tweet, Jones posted a letter addressed to Herring calling the issue a "flashpoint across our state".
This morning I asked @AGMarkHerring for an opinion on localities declaring themselves as “Second Amendment Sanctuaries.” While I believe there is no binding effect whatsoever, we would benefit from a definitive opinion going into the 2020 session. My letter is below: pic.twitter.com/RN1bmNWG9o
— Jay Jones (@jonesjay) December 2, 2019
On Wednesday, when he spoke to CBS 6, Herring said his office had not officially received Del. Jones' request, but would respond when they do.
"We'll get it when it comes in. We'll take a look at it and we'll make an appropriate response," added Herring.