Va. AG Herring says state’s gun ‘sanctuaries’ won’t be above likely new laws

FILE — Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring speaks to reporters outside the Arlington County Courthouse in Arlington, Va., Monday, Oct. 6, 2014.  (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

In hearings packed with gun rights supporters, several Virginia counties and cities have voted recently to become “Second Amendment sanctuaries.” The decisions have now prompted Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring to issue an advisory on the designations he said won’t stand up in court.

“These resolutions, they are just part of an effort by the gun lobby to stoke fear,” Herring told WTOP.

The decisions come after counties, including Stafford, Spotsylvania, Prince William and Culpeper, approved the designation. The moves also come ahead of a shift in the control of the General Assembly from Republicans to Democrats in January.

Gun rights supporters anticipate new gun laws in the new year, as does Herring, and he said cities or counties calling themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries will still be required to enforce the new laws.

“When the General Assembly passes new gun safety laws, they will be enforced, and they’re going to be followed,” Herring said.

The attorney general’s opinion comes in response to a request by Del. Jerrauld Jones, D-Norfolk.

Virginia House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah, called the opinion interesting.

“It directly contradicts his own statements and actions regarding the supremacy of state law over the preferences of the officials who must enforce them,” Gilbert wrote in a statement.

Herring said he will continue to push for what he calls common sense gun reforms in Virginia.

Legislation related to universal background checks, a red flag law and a revival of a law restricting residents from buying more than one handgun a month are proposals all on the table for 2020.

“These laws are ones that have broad public support, things like universal background checks, which are supported by a vast majority of Virginians, including gun owners,” Herring said.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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