By Brad Johnson
The gun control proponents have moved the battle front to the Commonwealth of Virginia.
The local political winds have shifted, and the previously Republican-controlled Virginia legislature will become Democratic controlled as the new delegates are sworn in this January. Two years earlier in January 2018, Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam was sworn in and became the 73rd governor of Virginia.
In July 2019, Gov. Northam proposed the gun control laws that are at the center of the current controversy. Even though the gun control laws failed at the time, Northam has been clear that once the Democratic Party assumed the majority this January, he would resubmit the new gun control laws.
In recent years, hand guns had been prohibited within certain jurisdictions, but this was overwhelmingly overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. What we see is a change of tactics on the part of the anti-gun movement, not a change in goal. The goal remains to take guns away from law-abiding citizens.
While the legislation is still in a draft form, the intent is made perfectly clear. For example, the draft legislation provides that owning any semi-automatic hand gun that has the capacity to accept a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds would be a felony.
This is fundamentally important and shows this to be a political move rather than anything related to safety.
There are smaller semi-automatic hand guns, generally used for concealed carry, that are made to hold 10 or fewer rounds in their magazines, but these are few in number. The vast majority of semi-automatic hand guns are produced to hold a magazine of more than 10 rounds. This is the trick that’s buried in the proposed legislation.
Even buying magazines that hold only 10 rounds would not bring a law-abiding citizen into compliance with the law. The legal issue is how the gun is made, not the exclusive use of a magazine that holds less than 10 rounds.
The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution reads: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
The meaning is clear and we have seen over and over in communist totalitarian states where, soon after taking power, they confiscate weapons from the hands of citizens.
Venezuela is most assuredly a recent example, but this has been repeated all through history, particularly since World War II, as we have seen in such places as China and Cuba and many other locations. This is why our founders tried to make it clear that all citizens had the right to own and bear arms and form an armed citizen’s group.
Everyone recognizes that the new laws as proposed will likely not stand up to scrutiny by the Supreme Court and will certainly make it that far. As a result, over 120 jurisdictions in Virginia, such as counties and municipalities, have taken a page from the left-wing political handbook and declared themselves to be sanctuary zones that will not waste valuable law enforcement resources on enforcing strict gun control laws that will very likely be overturned in a higher court anyway.
There are only 95 counties in Virginia to begin with, and the new laws as proposed would almost exclusively impact law-abiding citizens who are guilty of nothing more than owning a gun.
We can all understand the alarm on the part of liberals and all leftists who believe that the government has the right to full power and control over the citizenry. A free, independent spirit and the ability to protect and defend that spirit is a sharp limit to government power exactly as intended. This is the fundamental reason the Second Amendment is under attack from the left.
At the same time, the First Amendment is under similar attack from the left. The First Amendment reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Again, the intent of the founders was that we are all free to speak our minds openly without regard to how it might make others feel. Yet, today the First Amendment is also under full assault with liberals and the left arguing that to verbally disagree with them is a hate crime and must be prohibited.
If the First and Second Amendments are overwhelmed by this assault from the left, the Constitution will, in essence, be abandoned. The rights of the individual will be subordinated to the rights and power of the government and will no longer rule at the sufferance of the people but will rule in place of the people.
Brad Johnson is a retired CIA senior operations officer and a former chief of station. He is the president of Americans for Intelligence Reform.
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