In a display of pro-Second Amendment solidarity, a group of West Virginia lawmakers have introduced a resolution inviting Virginia counties frustrated by gun control efforts to switch states.
Delegates in the lower house of the West Virginia Legislature put the proposal forth on Tuesday.
House Concurrent Resolution 8 would allow certain Virginia counties and independent cities to be admitted to West Virginia as constituent counties.
The group of 20 West Virginia Republicans, and one Independent, introducing the resolution said in the proposal that Virginia lawmakers have repudiated “the counsel of that tribune of liberty, Patrick Henry-who stated to the Virginia Ratifying Convention in 1788 that ‘The great object is that every man be armed. Everyone who is able might have a gun.'”
“[T]he government at Richmond now seeks to place intolerable restraints upon the rights guaranteed under the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution to the citizens of [Virginia,]” the proposal reads.
If it passes, the Virginia General Assembly would need to approve the resolution as well, and hold an election prior to August 1, 2020 allowing residents in Virginia counties to vote on whether they’d like to join West Virginia.
HCR8’s language makes clear West Virginia lawmakers are motivated both by their state’s historically close ties to their neighbor in the east and the ideological battle currently raging in Virginia over gun laws.
Delegate Gary Howell, one of the West Virginia Republicans who introduced HCR8, told Pluralist that Virginians have been reaching out to him for help protecting their Constitutional rights.
“The counties that may take advantage of our offer share similar economies, demographics, or geography. They have more in common with us, than the Tidewater and Northern Virginia regions,” Howell said in an emailed statement.
“Borders are just lines on a map. It appears those lines now make less sense than they did in 1863, so why not redraw them peacefully.”
In response to threat of sweeping regulation in the newly blue state, a fierce grassroots pro-gun movement has risen up across the state. Dozens of counties and towns have declared themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries in recent months, and some Republican lawmakers in Richmond have championed the cause.
Already this week, a huge number of pro-gun activists have flooded Richmond in a show of strength.
Meanwhile, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam plans to declare an emergency ban on all weapons, including guns, from Capitol Square ahead of a massive rally planned next week over gun rights, according to The Associated Press.
In the unlikely event that the resolution advances out of the West Virginia Legislature and is approved by the Virginia General Assembly, the measure would be submitted to West Virginia voters at the next general election.