In what can only be seen as a defeat for Democrat Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, the self-mobilization of gun owners there blocked one of his party’s biggest proposals — a ban on so-called assault rifles. “Assault rifles” is really a nubilous term for certain semi-automatic rifles.
The now-scrapped legislation would have also limited magazine capacity to 12 rounds among other restrictions wrapped up in the bill. The aggressive push by Gov. Northam in calling for a special session for more gun control laws looks to be floundering. (Legislators are still considering or working to reconcile seven other bills, including a one handgun per-month purchase limit).
Last month, I wrote about how North Carolina is merely one election away from going the way of Virginia on guns. This is still true, but the current pushback against gun laws, while not surprising — is formidable. Not just in Virginia, but North Carolina as well. Having worked on Capitol Hill for a short time, it’s always apparent when a gun bill is before Congress. The amount of mail from Second Amendment advocates surges, reminding representatives that specific constituency is one of the most vocal and active of any in our nation. Opponents like to accuse gun advocacy groups, like the NRA, as being a rogue entity, but the reason they have power is simply because they have the backing and support of millions and millions of Americans.
AP Dillon has now tallied the latest number of NC counties that have passed some form of a sanctuary Second Amendment resolution, which affirms the right to bear arms from a plain reading of the text. The county count now stands at 60, representing a geographic mandate across North Carolina.
In a larger sense, it’s a reminder of how much the culture, more so than even the political landscape, has changed on gun rights. Politically, it can be argued North Carolina is in a stalemate on gun rights, losing ground to more conservative states, but not receding on the issue like some blue states. I’ve written extensively on how the Republican led legislature has not expanded gun rights in North Carolina in recent years, particularly by not scrapping the Jim Crow era pistol permit or sending a constitutional carry bill to the governor.
Still, the grassroots activism and mobilization by gun owners across 60 counties in this state serves as a warning to lawmakers. There is a lot of preparation taking place to battle Democrats here, particularly if they take control of the General Assembly in the next election. The laws now being proposed in Virginia mirror many of the laws being proposed here. Those looking to place more restrictions on what still many see as an inherent right can expect a formidable fight.
The culture really has changed on gun rights from when heavy gun control laws were more the norm, particularly during the 1960s and 1970s. Many people today are far less willing to comply with legislation and laws they clearly view as unconstitutional.