Americans are law-abiding people. Most of them are willing to obey most laws most of the time, which is a good thing indeed. Were this not true, policing would be impossible. As I’ve often written in the Second Civil War series, Americans will put up with a very great deal before resorting to violence. We’re seeing just that, beginning in Virginia and rapidly spreading across the country.
I speak of the Second Amendment Sanctuary movement. This is a welcome development, because it is beautifully exposing the hypocrisy of D/S/Cs. They have delighted in declaring their cities, counties and states immigration sanctuaries, and in so doing, sheltering actual criminals. Of course, they deny illegal immigrants, who they call “undocumented immigrants’’ are actually criminals, but federal law disagrees, and it is federal law that determines such things, not state or local law. There is no right for any foreigner to enter and remain in the US without lawful permission. When they do, they violate the law; they become criminals.. However, when a governmental entity declares itself a Second Amendment Sanctuary, D/S/Cs howl with outrage. “This is flouting the law! How dare they oppose the government!” What they really mean is“how dare Deplorables dare disagree with me! I’m elite! I’m morally and intellectually better than they are!” ”The hypocrisy is that Second Amendment sanctuaries are established in support of law-abiding citizens exercising their express, unalienable constitutional right to keep and bear arms. These are not criminals, but people D/S/C tyrants want to turn into criminals by declaring them criminals, violating their rights and seizing their lawfully owned property.
Consider this from The Washington Examiner:
Stirred awake by Democratic proposals to take, register, and possibly seize their legally obtained weapons, Virginia gun owners in just 43 days have pushed 90% of the state’s counties to become gun ‘sanctuaries,’ the latest three on Monday [12-16-19] night.
The number continues to increase.
Since the Nov. 5 election that gave Democrats control of Richmond, an ‘organic,’ pro-gun movement has prompted the governments of 86 of Virginia’s 95 counties, as well as 15 towns and cities, to adopt some type of sanctuary language, putting Gov. Ralph Northam and other liberals on notice that their gun control plans aren’t welcome.
‘I did not think it would be that high of a number,’ said sanctuary advocate and Culpeper County Sheriff Scott Jenkins.
‘It’s an organic thing that just took off after Election Day. Elections have consequences, and this is the result. This has truly rocked the conservative, libertarian group’s core. It has really shook a lot of them awake. They are fully awake,’ he told Secrets.
This has not been organized by the NRA. It’s a true grass roots, not Astroturf, movement:
It has also become the national model for the movement that has now reached Illinois, Washington, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, New Jersey, Florida, and Tennessee. Illinois is credited with starting the movement.
‘What’s happening is Virginia is becoming a national story and model,’ said Cam Edwards, editor of Bearing Arms and a national authority on gun laws.
John Hinderaker at Powerline adds:
The Democrats have died on this hill more than once before. It seems obvious that, to stick with the case at hand, their riling up Virginia’s gun owners will hurt them politically and will serve no tangible goal. So why do they do it?
Maybe they are true believers. Maybe they honestly think that if we add two or three more gun regulations to the thousands that already exist, violence will magically wither away, despite all evidence to the contrary. But despite my low opinion of liberals, I don’t think they are that dumb. I think, rather, that most of them hate the sort of people who own firearms, and simply want to harass and delegitimize them. I don’t think there is any more noble objective in view, which is why the gun sanctuary movement has taken off with lightning speed.
Is this then, merely a symbolic protest? These sanctuary declarations do not have the force of law. They do not overturn any unconstitutional law the VA legislature, or any other, may impose. So what’s up?
What we’re seeing is grassroots democracy. The people are speaking clearly to D/S/C would-be tyrants. Among the messages they’re sending is they’re going to be voted out of office at the next opportunity. But the other message they’re sending is local police are not going to enforce unconstitutional laws, and local politicians are going to have their backs.
But they can’t do that! They’re sworn to enforce the law! Technically yes; practically no.
Law Enforcement agencies are always understaffed. There are hundreds, even thousands of laws, and police officers are not only unaware of many, even most, they can’t possibly enforce every law in existence. A patrol officer, for example, will be aware of most traffic laws, and have a good working knowledge of the other kinds of offenses they are most likely to encounter, but anything else will require a visit to the statute website. They won’t make arrests for offenses they don’t know exist. Detectives are more experienced officers and tend to specialize, so their body of knowledge of the law will tend to be larger, but there are entire fields of criminal law, that relating to insurance violations for example, they don’t know. Because I had to know that body of law in my last police assignment, even prosecutors called me for information. Much firearm law in a given jurisdiction is federal law, so local agencies don’t deal with it at all.
The other essential understanding is police officers have discretion. They can, and must, choose which laws they will enforce, and such decisions are often made on the spur of the moment, and/or as a matter of agency policy. Part of that discretion is choosing not to enforce unconstitutional laws, or unjust laws that violate the social compact, such as laws passed to “send a message,” or laws that will damage citizen’s respect for the law and those that enforce it. In fact, police officers have a duty not to enforce unconstitutional laws, and most exercise that duty until courts have definitively ruled.
This is why Virginia legislators, Va’s Attorney General, and even Virginia’s representatives, are threatening law enforcement officers. They seek to take away their discretion, to force them to go door to door and seize the guns of the law-abiding. Rational officers simply will not do it.. They know not only that this is extraordinarily dangerous, but there is virtually nothing else that will so quickly and irrevocably destroy citizen’s willingness to cooperate with the law.
Police officers must have the discretion VA politicians seem ready to try to remove. If they did not, everyone would be constantly under arrest. There would be no more warnings for speeding or not quite stopping completely at a stop sign. Every jaywalker would be on their way to jail, there to be booked and held until they were bonded out. There are thousands of laws. It’s quite impossible to live without violating some each and every day.
This is why D/S/Cs are so upset with citizens doing exactly what they delight in doing. Of course, when they violate the law wholesale, when they ignore the law and protect actual criminals, it’s different because they’re so much smarter and more moral than Deplorables who cling to God and guns, and foolishly insist on lawfully exercising express, unalienable rights.
It may be worth your time, gentle readers, to read my series on a similar situation in Connecticut in 2014. Merely enter “Connecticut” in the SMM homepage search bar to find them all, though you might profitably start with Part 3: Police Thinking.
There is a separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches. The police are part of the executive branch, yet they’ve signaled their intent to potentially disobey the Governor, the state head of that branch. However, the governor is demanding law enforcement officers, people not remotely in his chain of command, enforce unconstitutional laws, and every officer has not only the right, but the duty, to decline to do that. Normally, they make no public announcement, they simply and quietly don’t violate people’s rights. This too is a good thing, a very good thing, because it preserves the social compact and maintains the thin blue line between the rule of law and anarchy, a line Virginia D/S/C politicians seem not to recognize, or just don’t care about.
Virginia’s politicians would be wise indeed to listen to the people of Virginia, who in this case, are speaking loudly and clearly through their police officers and local representatives. The politicians of the other states would be equally wise to pay attention to what is happening in Virginia. In the military, smart officers learn one does not give orders that will not be obeyed. Unlike what is commonly believed, our NCOs and lower ranking military personnel are smart, and will not do things that are unconstitutional and illegal. The same is true of our police officers. The VA legislature would be wise not to pass laws that not only won’t be obeyed, but will be resisted by the law-abiding.
The message could not be clearer: when would-be tyrants overstep their bounds, the people, and the police, will not serve their unconstitutional, destructive goals. They’ll do all they can to step back from the precipice of Civil War. This is a very good thing. And if necessary, they’ll resist violence with violence. This too is a very good thing, an American thing.
UPDATE, 12-26-19 0745 CST: Politicians do not always so clearly telegraph their intentions, as The NRA-ILA reports:
As if Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s wholesale attack on law-abiding gun owners wasn’t enough, the disgraced public official and his Michael Bloomberg-bought allies in the General Assembly now want the state’s hard-working taxpayers to foot the bill for their unconstitutional schemes. The budget bill (HB30) includes an appropriation of a quarter million dollars to carry out a host of gun control measures that Northam and his anti-gun allies hope to enact.
The $250,000 is appropriated to the Corrections Special Reserve Fund in order to provide for the “increase in the operating cost of adult correctional facilities resulting from the enactment” of Northam’s gun control measures. Among the enumerated laws that this allocation is meant to fund is a ban on commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms, the criminalization of private firearms transfers, and gun confiscation orders issued without due process.
Pat of Northam’s intention is to “allow” people that already own “assault firearms”–pretty much any semiauto that can accept a magazine of greater than 10 rounds–to keep them, but only if they register those guns. Registration, of course, is always the necessary prerequisite to confiscation, providing probable cause for search warrants as necessary should the government decide it needs to bother with the 4th Amendment in the future.
This will not end well.