Va National Guard responds to Dem’s claim they could be deployed to enforce new gun laws

The Virginia National Guard issued a response after getting entangled in a debate on the state’s proposed gun control measures.

The response came in the form of a statement released after Democratic lawmakers threatened the state’s law enforcement officials with “consequences” if they refuse to enforce future gun control laws, warning that the National Guard could be deployed to ensure compliance.

(U.S. Army National Guard photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne)

Sweeping gun control legislation being pushed by Virginia’s Democratic-controlled House of Delegates sparked an uproar as law enforcement officials and legal firearm owners in over 70 counties in the state have banded together, declaring themselves “Second Amendment sanctuaries.”

The new measures, if passed, would include universal background checks, an “assault weapons” ban, and a red flag law. But angry residents and sheriffs have vowed to uphold the Second Amendment in the municipalities regardless of what comes down from the capital of Richmond.

“The law is the law. If that becomes the law, you don’t have a choice, not if you’re a sworn officer of the law,” Virginia Rep. Gerry Connolly said, adding that police would be “prosecuted for failure to fulfill their oath.”

Democratic Virginia Rep. Donald McEachin went further, however.

“And ultimately, I’m not the governor, but the governor may have to nationalize the National Guard to enforce the law,” he said. “That’s his call, because I don’t know how serious these counties are and how severe the violations of law will be. But that’s obviously an option he has.”

“We have received multiple questions regarding proposed legislation for the 2020 General Assembly session and the authority of the Governor of Virginia to employ the Virginia National Guard in a law enforcement role,” Maj. Gen. Timothy Williams, Adjutant General of the Virginia National Guard, said in a statement in response to the comments made by McEachin.

“We understand and respect the passion people feel for the U.S. Constitution and 2nd Amendment rights. We will not speculate about the possible use of the Virginia National Guard,” Williams added.

Democrat Gov. Ralph Northam did not mention the National Guard in his comments but said he would “cross that bridge” when he got to it, pending the passage of the proposed legislation.

“There’s not going to be retaliation. That’s not what I’m about. I’m about making Virginia safer,” Northam said. “If we have constitutional laws on the books and law enforcement officers are not enforcing those laws on the books, then there are going to be consequences, but I’ll cross that bridge if and when we get to it.”

Meanwhile, Williams asked for “patience” as lawmakers worked out the proposed legislation and urged members of the Virginia National Guard to “be professional and respectful” in their conversations about the issue.

A military law expert speculated on the constitutionality and legal basis for Northam to call upon the Virginia National Guard to enforce gun control laws.

“Until nationalized, it’s a creature of the state. So that’s what leads me to believe that, yes, the governor can activate the National Guard to enforce even a state law,” Georgetown University professor Gary Solis told the Washington Examiner.

National Guard troops have been deployed in history to “enforce the rights of citizens when they were being infringed upon,” legal policy analyst Amy Swearer said.

The statement from the National Guard sparked fresh debate on social media.

Frieda Powers

Senior Staff Writer
[email protected]

Originally from New York, Powers graduated from New York University and eventually made her way to sunny South Florida where she has been writing for the BizPacReview team since 2015.
Frieda Powers

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