A Virginia sheriff went viral on Monday after he vowed not to enforce “unconstitutional” bills being proposed by the state’s lawmakers.
Sheriff Richard Vaughan, who serves in the “Second Amendment sanctuary” of Grayson County, joined thousands of demonstrators converging on the Virginia State Capitol to express their support for gun rights.
“If the bills go through as proposed, they will not be enforced. They are unconstitutional,” Vaughn is heard saying in footage that was uploaded to Twitter. “We support and uphold the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of Virginia. That’s what we’ll do.”
In only a few hours, the clip shared by Turning Point USA creative director Benny Johnson racked up more than a hundred thousand views on Twitter.
Vaughn isn’t the first officer of the law to pledge not to enforce laws that purportedly infringe on the Second Amendment, either in Virginia or elsewhere.
Sheriffs in various Colorado counties vowed in November not to enforce a “red flag” law set to take effect this year.
Virginia Democrats pushed back in December against defiant law enforcement officials.
Several Democratic lawmakers said at the time that officers who refused to carry out the laws passed by the Virginia General Assembly would face consequences, including prosecution and loss of state funding to their departments.
State Rep. Donald McEachin even suggested that Virginia Governor Ralph Northam could call the National Guard to make sure gun control measures are enforced.
Northam, a Democrat, has vowed to push through new gun control laws. He is backing a package of eight bills, including universal background checks, a “red flag” law, a ban on assault rifles and a limit of one handgun-a-month purchase.
The state’s gun owners have responded with a movement to create “sanctuary cities” for gun rights, with local government bodies passing declarations not to enforce new gun laws.
On Monday, thousands assembled at Virginia’s capitol building to demonstrate for gun rights.
Monday’s rally was organized by the Virginia Citizens Defense League, a prominent Second Amendment group that typically holds an annual “Lobby Day” to meet with lawmakers. The group has said this year’s event will be focused on opposing sweeping gun control measures that could be enacted next week by the Virginia legislature, which is under Democratic control for the first time in a generation.
Since the November election, nearly all of Virginia’s 95 counties have some form of “sanctuary,” a term first used by localities opposed to harsh treatment of illegal immigrants.
One southwestern Virginia county went even further, passing a resolution authorizing funding for the formation of a well-regulated militia.