Numerous Utahans were able to listen to a preliminary gubernatorial debate this past Friday at the Silicon Slopes Summit. While the field is crowded, there are several quality candidates to consider. One question asked was about “gun control”. A typical generalized, non-specific answer was given and the panel moved on. But the issue of gun control is front and center nationally, and no state illustrates the problems divergent political camps might impose on civil society more than Virginia. It is time Utah took steps to defuse any potential conflict like that here.
The issues in Virginia should be clearly understood, and to think “that could never happen here” is naïve. Just a few years ago Virginia (primarily rural with the exception of the D.C. corridor and Richmond) was a Second Amendment freedom-loving state. In a short time, it has become a battleground. As large crowds, many exercising their constitutional right to bear arms, marched on the capital last week, the leftist media was geared up. Describing the crowd as saturated with “extremists” and white supremacists”, it is easy to see with the right environment how this issue can get carried away. And as usual, international money drives the issue with nefarious intentions.
The last interim election ushered in a Democrat House, Senate, and Governorship in Virginia. This is the first Democrat majority like this in the state in over thirty years. Add a far-left State Attorney General (whose campaign was primarily and alarmingly financed by George Soros) and you have a prescription for trouble. And gun ownership is the flashpoint this majority is using to divide the people of their state. And as a typical left-wing monopoly will do these days, the legislators immediately set out to eliminate resident’s constitutional gun rights.
A number of bills are passing through Virginia legislature, outlawing all “assault weapons”, calling for registrations, immediate confiscations, magazine restrictions, limiting or shutting down gun ranges, red flag laws and a number of other provisions in direct violation of the Constitution. In response, the majority of rural, conservative counties have declared themselves “Second Amendment Sanctuary” counties and local law enforcement has refused to enforce any laws that are directly in violation of constitutional rights.
This sets the stage for division, confrontation and civil unrest, which seems to be part of the agenda. To have untold thousands of armed Virginians taking to the streets daring state forces to take their weapons is not a scenario anyone wants to see in their neighborhood. And, with a cooperative liberal press, if the issue should be pressed to extremes guess who will be painted as the antagonists? Certainly not the state powers that are oppressively and illegally imposing themselves on their citizenry.
To comply with the law is unconstitutional, immoral and unthinkable. To resist the law provides an opportunity to paint law-abiding firearm owners as violent extremists that need to be dealt with. A perfect trap. Well trained, law-abiding gun owners are the safest group statistically to be associated with. But even the most passive law-abiding owners may be pushed too far if their doors are being kicked in and their property illegitimately confiscated.
We currently have wise leadership in Utah. But that could always change, especially if outside forces and money push to change our political structure. It happened in Virginia. It can happen almost anywhere. Therefore it would be prudent to draft and pass legislation declaring Utah a “Second Amendment Sanctuary State”. We should encode within our state in no uncertain terms that this natural right, as immortalized in our Constitution, can never be relinquished by any state law. We should outline our principles in greater detail, enshrining them for future generations. It would not hurt to reiterate a number of other constitutional freedoms as well, as it seems many states are concurrently losing sight of many of those core principles.
While much of this is already covered in our state constitution, legislation encoding the detailed rights to defend self and property could go a long way toward thwarting any efforts to sow division in the future. Utah has led the way on so many critical issues. It is time to embrace the spirit and intent of the Constitution and show principled leadership on this one.