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Exemption bill for 2A localities dies without vote / February 10, 2020

Del. James Edmunds’ bill to exempt self-proclaimed Second Amendment sanctuary localities from gun control measures that are working their way through the General Assembly is officially dead.

Edmunds’ legislation, House Bill 934, failed to get a hearing in the House ahead of Crossover Day, when the House and Senate must send over legislation that passes one chamber to the other. Crossover Day is Tuesday, Feb. 11.

Edmunds said the lack of consideration for his bill came as a disappointment, although even fellow Republicans had downplayed the chances that the Democratic-controlled legislature would entertain the idea. HB 934 attracted 34 co-patrons, all Republicans.

“I was bummed, I think every bill should get a hearing. I thought it was a way to help keep the peace,” said Edmunds.

The bill’s premise is that Second Amendment sanctuary counties, cities and towns should not be required to enforce gun measures that Democrats have vowed to pass into law this session — included expanded background checks on gun purchases, a “red flag” emergency protection measure that would allow courts to temporarily take away guns from persons deemed a risk to themselves or others, and bans on high-capacity magazines.

A key House committee also voted last week to ban the sale of AR-15 style assault rifles in Virginia, setting up likely passage in the full House this week. The bill does not mandate that gun owners give up such weapons.

On the House floor Friday, Edmunds lamented the push for new gun control laws, which Democrats vowed to enact as they campaigned in the 2019 legislative elections — the results of which gave Democrats majorities in the House and Senate for the first time in a generation.

Edmunds argued that the will of the people in Virginia is otherwise, as evidenced by the grassroots success of the Second Amendment sanctuary movement.

Democrats’ gun control agenda has stirred what Edmunds described as the silent majority — “people who get up, go to work, come home and generally speaking don’t get involved in politics.

“Now I understand that perhaps if they had become involved, we wouldn’t be facing the myriad of firearms proposals that this General Assembly is considering this session,” he said on the House floor.

Edmunds warned Democrats that a “very significant portion” of Virginians oppose new gun laws, although public opinion polling shows that large majorities back measures such as expanded background checks and a “red flag” bill.

Referring to the lack of action on his bill in the House Public Safety Committee, which never gave a vote to HB 934, Edmunds lamented, “Is this how our democracy is supposed to work?”

He added, “We now live in two very distinctly different Virginians, and the results of this year’s session have proven that even more. I am very concerned for our great state.

“What has occurred this session is an awakening that will not be forgotten in a year or two,” Edmunds continued.

While more than a hundred counties, towns and cities have enacted Second Amendment sanctuary resolutions, proponents of the idea have conceded that the resolutions have no legal effect. Halifax County is among the areas that have passed 2A Sanctuary resolutions, with a Board of Supervisors meeting on the topic drawing some 500 people who overwhelmingly supported the action.

Edmunds, who spoke at that meeting, offered his bill as a way to split the difference between gun control advocates and pro-gun areas of the Commonwealth. “These counties that want to have Second Amendment restrictions placed on them, fine, they can have at it. But for us, leave us alone, we’re just fine down here in Halifax,” he said.

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