NEW YORK – Today, Virginia’s Attorney General Mark Herring issued an advisory opinion on the rise of so-called ‘Second Amendment sanctuary counties’ in Virginia, saying the resolutions passed by localities across Virginia declaring themselves exempt from gun safety laws have “no legal effect.” In addition, he determined that localities “cannot nullify state laws” and are required to follow and enforce gun violence prevention measures passed by the state legislature.
“The Attorney General’s opinion reaffirms what we already know – that these resolutions are legally meaningless and dangerous attempts to defy the democratic will of the people,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.“ Not only do the majority of Virginians and Americans support background check and red flag laws, but these laws have already been ruled constitutional and are proven to save lives.”
Yesterday, Everytown Law, the litigation arm of Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, held a press call and sent a letter to the National Sheriffs’ Association, the National Association of Counties, and others urging them to condemn the recent wave of ‘Second Amendment Sanctuary’ resolutions passed by some local governments. These resolutions typically declare that the local board or sheriff intends to refuse their legal and constitutional responsibility to enforce democratically-enacted gun violence prevention laws passed by their state legislatures based on their own personal opinion as to whether the laws are constitutional.
Despite holding no legal merit, these resolutions set a dangerous precedent and undermine the rule of law by encouraging law enforcement officials to refuse to enforce gun safety measures that they incorrectly and unilaterally consider unconstitutional. They also threaten the safety of communities nationwide by fostering distrust in law enforcement and may deter people from reporting individuals that may hurt themselves or others.