Despite the expansion of “gun sanctuaries” to a record 130 Virginia towns and counties Wednesday, covering most of the state, foes of gun control legislation speeding through Richmond are raising new fears they will be forced to register weapons, a move that could lead to “confiscation.”
Second Amendment lobbyists and advocates reviewing the initial gun control moves by a state Senate committee credit the exploding sanctuary movement for forcing Democrats to accept some compromises, including a less strict universal background check and delay in introducing a ban on “assault weapons.”
But they are concerned that even watered down gun control legislation will eventually lead to broader restrictions and bans.
Berryville just became sanctuary #130!
— Phil Van Cleave VCDL (@VCDL_ORG) January 15, 2020
“There’s no doubt that the sanctuary movement has the Democrats concerned. Just too soon to know where things are going,” said Philip Van Cleave, who runs the grassroots advocacy group Virginia Citizens Defense League.
“We are very glad to hear that the sanctuary efforts are sending a big signal. But we were very disappointed to see what passed out of committee on Monday,” said Erich Pratt, senior vice president of Gun Owners of America,
The sanctuary movement collected its 130th endorsement on Tuesday. It reaches nearly every suburban and rural area of the state.
Gun advocates are planning to flood the state capital on Monday, traditionally citizen lobbying day. They are eager to turn back bills OK’d so far, though Democrats have said they plan to stand firm, claiming that gun control promises helped them take control of the legislature in the 2019 elections.
The National Rifle Association conducted its lobbying day Monday when the Senate Judiciary Committee approved several new restrictions including a universal background check, a limit on handgun purchases, and other regulations alien to the formerly-gun friendly state and home to the NRA.
What The Heck Is Happening In VA? https://t.co/uqDZNk6AKH
— GOA (@GunOwners) January 15, 2020
“The NRA is focused on encouraging our members and supporters to be active and engaged with their legislators from the first day of session to the last. Indeed, the NRA will have a strong presence at the Capitol throughout the legislative session. But it’s the voice and presence of our members that carry the most weight with lawmakers,” said Catherine Mortensen, NRA spokesperson.
While some gun advocates saw promise in changes made to gun control legislation, Pratt told Secrets that he is worried that once approved, lawmakers in the future will tighten rules on gun owners.
“Among other things, the Universal Background Checks bill would ensure that every gun sale in Virginia had a Form 4473 attached to it,” he said referring to a “Firearms Transaction Record” that gives information to the federal government.
“Virginia could be sucked up into this de facto national gun registry,” he said.
He also hit a plan to require that semi-automatic rifles, like ARs, be registered but not banned. “This would also mean that, if semi-automatics are ever made unlawful in Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam’s SWAT teams would have a handy list of homes to raid. This is exactly what they’re doing in New Zealand. And it’s exactly what has already been done in California and New York — gun confiscation was preceded by registration,” he added.