The Virginia Crisis
It seems a fitting movie plot: it's 2020 and Patrick Henry, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison are planning a Second Revolution from beyond the Grave. Never mind the slew of other proud Virginians that include the Henry Clay's and the Robert E. Lee's and the Meriwether Lewis's of the world. In a week that seems surreal to any Constitutionalist or conservative in the United States, the Virginia House of Delegates has upended tradition and precedent and seemingly trampled on any rationalist's idea of a "mandate" by pushing through swift and unambiguous, hardcore gun legislation in the Commonwealth.
While it's true that Virginia voters did elect a Democratic majority to the House in the most recent election, it's not as clear that the electorate expected or even envisioned such politically skewed gun legislation while in the voting precinct.
The problem isn’t that Virginian's don't condemn gun violence. The problem is that the discussion and the landscape isn't polarized and simple to understand. The fiber of the Virginia tapestry is woven thick with gun culture, freedom and resistance. It seems so un-Virginian to even be discussing what's happening in Virginia in 2020. For that matter it feels a bit un-American to many.
The underlying concern from most Virginian's other than that the new legislation violates the first principle of proud Virginian, Patrick Henry's famous speech, is that it's so overtly politically motivated. In the backyard of the NRA, the Democratic Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia has managed to pass, without limitation, a gun control package that rivals the most progressive platforms in the nation.
Gun rights advocates would point to the Virginia flag motto which states "Sic Semper Tyrannis" and alludes to bad mojo befalling tyrants in Virginia. Gun Control sponsors, including governing body representatives feel confident their legislation will pass Constitutional muster, all the way to the Supreme Court. It seems likely that this fight is just starting to simmer.
So, what are Virginian's facing?
- A ban on "Assault Weapons", silencers, magazines considered High Capacity (generally 12 rounds in VA) and other "Dangerous Weapons"
- A required background check for any firearm related transaction
- A lock on multiple purchases; specifically, a single handgun purchase per month maximum (this is the return of a law that was repealed in 2012)
- The ability for "Municipalities" to author and enact "ordinances that are stricter than state law"
- A one-day reporting deadline for lost or stolen guns to law enforcement
- A "RED FLAG" law that would allow significantly decreased difficulty in confiscating weapons from those deemed to be a threat to themselves or others - with a loose interpretation of that meaning and with a low threshold on the burden of proof
- A ban on all firearms from those subject to an existing protective order
- Making it a more serious crime to allow access to "unsecured" firearms to those under 18 years of age
Moderate Virginian's might even think that a couple of these proposals have some merit individually at some level. The problem is: they are an all or nothing package that has gone way over the top to ensure an agenda can be passed while control exists for a particular party.
The parties responsible for pushing through these new laws seem plenty flexible and resistant to locking up the millions of felons it will seemingly surreptitiously create overnight, but those who champion unfettered 2nd Amendment rights in Virginia say it's all just lip service. Once Virginian's have begun the "registration" process, the slippery slope to confiscation has begun, they believe. This is all so new of an idea though, with only hours having passed since the House vote. With a 21-19 seat control in the Senate for Democrats, House Bill 961 certainly seems a forgone conclusion to pass the Senate too.
Outside of Richmond however, the Senators who vote to pass this legislation are on notice: if you vote to pass these proposals into law, you are going to lose your Senate seat. If it's purely political, as it seems to have devolved to at this point, then the massive saturation of Republican electorate in these seat's home areas means they are likely to be on their way out of a job. So, there is some hope for Virginians who favor originalist views of the Second Amendment.
It begs the question though, why is any of this a "party-line" vote scenario? Gun rights have little to do with party lines. If you look at the 2nd Amendment, it is all about solidifying the viewpoint that Tyranny must have a check and a balance. If you are a Virginian, you adopted it into your flag and you have some of that Patrick Henry, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson DNA in your bloodstream.
The NRA and other Guns Rights organizations are unanimously opposed to all of the separate parts of the proposed legislation. Gun Control groups are unanimously in favor of them. It has become something of a trend to blindly follow party lines.
But gun rights aren’t about trends. They aren't there to manipulate because of emotion. They exist, as a strong statement to Government that regardless of whether they are written down on paper, or enshrined in famous documents in museums, that the ideas behind the 2nd Amendment run deep. Deeper than party line politics. Deeper than the emotion that comes from hearing about the tragedies that befall innocents – and they are sad tragedies.
Because without statements like the 2nd Amendment, the Government could be the evil we see in the streets. Without the potential for a robust last line of defense, the people may allow tyranny to materialize in the name of emotion and party lines and mob rule.
This isn't an invitation for a traditional revolution, though Virginians would historically have factored greatly in such an uprising. This instead is a reminder that Virginians can act to reverse a legislative docket that materializes based on fear and emotion and unrealistic pretended mandates that come from small majority election wins. It's to signal to a nation of gun owners that when one American's Freedom is in danger, there is danger to every American's Freedom.
When James Madison drafted, and Edmund Randolph delivered the words of the Virginia Plan, to the Constitutional Convention on May 29th, 1787, they may not have known how much of that draft would be incorporated into the founding documents of the United States of America, but they did know something all too well.
They knew that harmony was amongst the most noble and important parts of that document. They included the word twice. As it was then, harmony for Virginians should remain the focal point. Harmony requires discussion and restraint and realism. For Virginians, it is now the time to voice your opinion and be heard to ensure that harmony for the whole of the people of the Commonwealth is upheld instead of passing party politics in order to win another term or pass a personal agenda. For All Americans, it is time to support Virginians in finding harmony and protecting a sacred Virginian (and American) idea.