Image courtesy of Rep. Jim Lucas (R-Seymour), who attended today's rally in Richmond

Virginia reminds us that elections have consequences

     As the massive Second Amendment rally peacefully unfolded in Richmond, Virginia today – and with 91 of the 95 Virginia counties having declared themselves “Second Amendment sanctuaries” – I was reminded of one inescapable political reality:  elections have consequences.  Because the very real prospect of draconian gun control being enacted in Virginia this year – and the need to rally against those laws – result from a single development, which is the new Democrat majority in the Virginia legislature.  And with Democrats now controlling the Virginia House of Delegates, Senate and governor’s office, Democrats are poised to deliver what they promised throughout last year’s elections (and what Michael Bloomberg purchased through campaign contributions):  new gun control laws that severely limit the Second Amendment rights of Virginians.

     Many of us have applauded the rapid adoption of local resolutions or ordinances that have declared so many Virginia counties and municipalities as Second Amendment sanctuaries.  Here in Indiana, one county has followed suit as Kenny Freeman, sheriff of Jennings County, signed a resolution on January 17 declaring his county as a sanctuary from any new legislation that might be passed in Indiana that infringes on gun rights.  A host of Facebook groups have sprung up that are attempting to create additional Second Amendment sanctuaries for nearly every county in Indiana.

     I enthusiastically support the Second Amendment sanctuary movement and I explained why that movement is more than merely symbolic on The Gun Guy Show on Saturday. That said, while a declaration that a county is a Second Amendment sanctuary sends a positive message, I would vastly prefer that there be no laws in Indiana from which we need sanctuary.  For that reason, I’d love to see the same kind of grassroots effort and coordination dedicated to electing pro-Second Amendment state legislators, defeating anti-Second Amendment politicians at every level, killing anti-Second Amendment legislation at the Statehouse and pushing through our pro-Second Amendment bills every year.

     For example, we had one of the best pro-Second Amendment years we’ve had in a long time in 2019, with the Indiana General Assembly passing (and Governor Holcomb signing) the self-defense immunity bill (that I wrote and Rep. Jim Lucas introduced), church carry, and the free 5-year license (both written by Rep. Ben Smaltz). And as much as Indiana’s red flag law is flawed and subject to abuse, it was dramatically improved in several ways last year including enhancements to due process, protection for seized firearms and most importantly a significant restriction on the definition of a “dangerous person” who is subject to a firearm seizure. We eventually won on each of these issues, but at EVERY public hearing at the Statehouse, the anti-Second Amendment crowd – including the “moms” in their red t-shirts – vastly outnumbered the Second Amendment supporters in attendance – every  one.  It was frustrating and it makes a difference.

     So as much as I love seeing the groundswell of support for Second Amendment sanctuaries, I’d sure love to see a fraction of this much support every legislative session as we fight for and against bills that directly affect our Second Amendment rights.  For example, while Sen. Greg Taylor’s idiotic (and doomed) SB 203 gets all the attention this year, did you know we have a “universal background check” bill pending in Indiana right now? We also have a “safe storage” bill. Have you called your legislators? Have you sent emails? Have you called the committee chairmen? Have you checked the IGA website to see if any of those bills have been scheduled for a hearing? If not, I urge you to do each of those things and do them right away.

     I also see a lot of chatter about laws being “unconstitutional” or “null and void.” Some folks seem to believe that it doesn’t really matter what gun control laws are passed in the General Assembly because “all gun control laws infringe the Second Amendment.” Well, that’s not how any of this works.  Because you and I can believe that a law violates the Constitution. We can post on the internet that “an unconstitutional law is no law at all.” But if we’re arrested for violating that law, our beliefs are 100{5ad3c25f5d8a6462a9daae157324f98d5b0edc4be0c0ed5ad8ca367936c1d337} irrelevant unless a court agrees with us that the law is unconstitutional. Otherwise, we’re going to prison and we’ll only have our cellmate to rant to about how unconstitutional the law is that landed us in the top bunk. (Of course, another option is to die in a pile of hot brass as we violently resist the enforcement of “unconstitutional” laws, but I think most of us would prefer an alternative to that outcome.)

     And that is another reason why it is so important to fight every single anti-Second Amendment bill when it’s offered and to punish the legislators who introduce those bills in the next election. We can’t just sit back, declare a bill “unconstitutional” on the internet and think that makes any difference. It doesn’t – at least not until we win that argument in the courtroom, have the law repealed or achieve final victory in the “big boogaloo”.

     That’s why – in my opinion – we should focus our efforts to protect our Second Amendment rights on every election and on every session of the Indiana General Assembly – so we don’t have to rely on living in a “sanctuary” from the laws we were unable to stop at the Statehouse.

     In the fight to preserve Second Amendment freedoms, Indiana gun owners are currently blessed by Republican supermajorities in both the House and the Senate and a pro-gun governor in Eric Holcomb.   

     Virginians once had the same security – but elections have consequences.

 

­­­­­­­­­­­Guy A. Relford is host of “The Gun Guy” radio show on WIBC. He is also a Second Amendment attorney in Carmel, Indiana and the owner and chief instructor of Tactical Firearms Training, LLC in Indianapolis.   He is a NRA-certified firearms instructor and chief range safety officer and the author of Gun Safety & Cleaning for Dummies (Wiley & Sons Publications 2012).

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