Ever since Virginia's Democrats retook the state assembly and Senate in November, Democratic Gov. Ralph "blackface" Northam and the legislature have been gearing up to pass a draconian gun control bill.
Unsurprisingly, many Virginians feel strongly about preserving their second amendment rights, and the state has traditionally enforced a more permissive stance toward firearm ownership. But now, lawmakers are tossing around ideas like an "assault weapons ban" - language that has been criticized as vague and even nonsensical. Several moderate Democrats have even expressed reservations about supporting a sweeping gun-control bill if it includes the ban.
"A lot of people don’t really understand assault weapons and how complicated the issue really is," said Democratic Sen. John Edwards. "It’s going to be very difficult to figure out a way to do it. But we’re studying it, that’s all I can say."
And yet, lawmakers are pressing ahead, prompting a vicious backlash that has even prompted Gov. Northam to declare a state of Emergency because armed militia groups planned to storm the capitol.
As the gun-control debate rages, thousands of Virginians have been rushing to gun stores across the state to buy up firearms before it's too late.
"Business has been absolutely crazy," explained Jerry Rapp, owner of SpecDive Tactical in Alexandria. Rapp said business has increased by 200 to 300 percent since the last election, although that doesn’t mean the news is all good for the gun shop owner and his customers. "People are really on edge. They’re worried about their Second Amendment rights. They’re worried about the future of what you can and cannot have as a firearm."
As one gun buyer put it, since Democrats have expressed open hostility to the 2nd Amendment, it makes more sense to just be prepared.
"If they’re willing to make laws that will strip your second amendment right, I mean who’s to say what could happen, so yeah, I’m gonna get it while I can," Roberson said.
According to FBI data, the number of firearm background checks ballooned in Virginia last month to nearly 77,000, up from 53,000 a year before. That's an increase of roughly 45%. That's in keeping with a national trend that we highlighted earlier this month.
President Trump has even chimed in, warning that your "2nd Amendment is under very serious attack".
Your 2nd Amendment is under very serious attack in the Great Commonwealth of Virginia. That’s what happens when you vote for Democrats, they will take your guns away. Republicans will win Virginia in 2020. Thank you Dems!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 17, 2020
Meanwhile, communities across Virginia are already looking into ways to sidestep any new state laws. The map below shows the counties that have enacted, or are considering, "Second Amendment Sanctuary" legislation.
The gun control debate has already ratcheted up tensions across the state. And things are only just getting started.