US sheriff threatens to defy state to protect gun ownership rights

19 January, 2020 12:00 AM printer

CULPEPER: When Sheriff Scott Jenkins swore to protect the US Constitution, he swore to protect the Second Amendment—even from new laws in Virginia that he says threaten to deprive citizens of their right to bear arms, reports AFP.

Since December, he has become a key figure in a pro-Second Amendment protest movement that has organized a protest in Richmond, the state capital, on Monday. At least 10,000 supporters plan on attending, according to media reports.

“The Constitution is very clear: the Second Amendment grants every citizen to bear arms, specifically against a tyrannical government,” said the officer from Culpeper County, a rural region about 60 miles (100 kilometers) southwest of Washington.

Virginia, which has traditionally leaned conservative, flipped in November and passed into Democratic hands. State Democrats promised to tackle what they considered the laxity surrounding carrying laws, particularly after a May 2019 shooting in Virginia Beach that left 12 dead.

The Second Amendment, which states that “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed,” has proved controversial over the years and has been subject to many different interpretations. The Supreme Court has ruled that individuals have the right to keep firearms in their households, but left it to states to determine how the weapons could be transported. New laws under consideration in Virginia would prohibit magazines with more than 10 rounds, the purchase of more than one weapon per month, and permit judges to seize weapons from individuals deemed dangerous. A draft ban on the sale of semi-automatic rifles, however, has been abandoned.

“We have good enough laws already on the book that do a fine job of restricting dangerous weapons, and there is no need for further restrictions,” said Jenkins.

The imposing sheriff, who believes in the right to self-defense, said that limiting residents’ right to own firearms would allow potential criminals to do even more harm.

Throughout the state of Virginia, more than 100 counties and localities—including Culpeper—have proclaimed themselves as sanctuaries, threatening not to apply the new laws.