Virginia sheriff vows to deputize citizens if gun laws pass

CULPEPER COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — A Virginia sheriff has vowed to deputize county residents if the new Democratic majority in the state legislature passes gun control measures.

Sheriff Scott H. Jenkins (Culpeper County Sheriff's Office)

At a meeting last week in which the Culpeper County Board of Supervisors joined an ever-growing list of counties in Virginia by voting unanimously to declare themselves 'Second Amendment Sanctuary,' Sheriff Scott jenkins vowed to deputize scores of residents, if necessary, to push back on potential state-imposed gun restrictions.

"Every Sheriff and Commonwealth Attorney in Virginia will see the consequences if our General Assembly passes further unnecessary gun restrictions. 'Red Flag' laws without due process will create enormous conflict as well," Sheriff Scott Jenkins wrote in a Facebook post.

"My office will always encourage and support our citizens in firearms training, concealed carry permits, and the ability to defend themselves and their families," he continued. "I remain very optimistic that our General Assembly will not pass the proposed bills. Obviously, if passed, there are many of us willing to challenge these laws through the courts. In addition, if necessary, I plan to properly screen and deputize thousands of our law-abiding citizens to protect their constitutional right to own firearms."

Culpeper County joined more than 30 other Virginia localities in the recent movement to become 'Second Amendment Sanctuaries,' in which counties, cities, or towns vote to adopt a resolution declaring their intent that public tax money in their jurisdiction not be used for any measures that violate the Second Amendment.

So far, in the Shenandoah Valley, Page County and Augusta County have each voted to adopt similar resolutions.

The Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors heard strong support from the public for making a declaration late last month and is meeting again on Dec. 9 at 6 p.m. at Central High School to consider the measure.

The Rockingham County Board of Supervisors will hear from the public on the topic on Dec. 11.

The city of Staunton is not planning a specific hearing on the topic, but the city's sheriff recently called on the public to attend an upcoming city council meeting to make their voices heard.

Many other localities are still in the process of discussing taking the step.

The 'Second Amendment sanctuary' movement – a conservative spin on 'sanctuary cities,' which vowed not to work with ICE to deport undocumented immigrants – began shortly after the election earlier this month in which Democrats won full control of the General Assembly for the first time in decades.

Many people in areas that voted along conservative lines believe that their constitutional rights may be threatened under a Democratic-controlled legislature.

Not many bills have been filed for Virginia's 2020 session yet, but one gun control bill has been proposed by a Democrat that's created a stir on social media: SB 16, which would make it a Class 1 misdemeanor "to import, sell, barter, or transfer any firearm magazine designed to hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition" and expand the definition of "assault firearm" under Virginia law, prohibiting anyone from possessing a gun that meets the new definition of "assault firearm." Possessing or transporting a gun under the new definition of an "assault firearm" would become a Class 6 felony.

Senate Bill 18 would raise the age for purchasing a firearm in Virginia to 21 and require mandatory background checks for any transfer of firearms, instructing State Police to establish a process for people to obtain the background checks.

To counter possible gun control laws, the concept of becoming a 'Second Amendment sanctuary' means that a county expresses its intent that its public funds not be used to restrict Second Amendment rights.

The resolutions aren't legally binding, and any challenge that would result to laws passed next year would go to the courts, but the resolutions put forth a public stance on behalf of counties' or cities' citizens.