VEXIT: Could Some Virginia Counties Secede Over Gun Control?
The West Virginia state legislature has proposed a bill to admit some Virginia counties to the Mountain State, as Virginia threatens to limit its citizens’ second amendment rights. The resolution, which passed through the West Virginia Senate on January 13, was drafted and introduced by Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Trump, IV (R) of Morgan County.
“Providing for an election to be had, pending approval of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and a majority of qualified citizens voting upon the proposition prior to August 1, 2020, for the admission of certain counties and independent cities of the Commonwealth of Virginia to be admitted to the State of West Virginia as constituent counties, under the provisions of Article VI, Section 11 of the Constitution of West Virginia,” the bill begins.
A bill banning assault weapons passed through the Virginia House of Delegates Committee on Public Safety Thursday morning with a vote of 12-9. HB 961 would ban the sale of certain semi-automatic firearms, including AR-15 style rifles. However, it would not require current owners of assault weapons to turn them in or register them with state police, which some earlier proposals required.
According to the Associated Press, more than 100 cities, towns and counties in Virginia have passed resolutions to become Second Amendment sanctuaries. Gun rights and abortion issues are among the main concerns of constituents in these locations.
In the meantime, one Virginia man has created a “Vexit” petition due to the state’s gun control policies. Additionally, Campbell County attorney and conservative activist, Rick Boyer, says he will follow through with a plan to add “Vexit” on the 2020 ballot, citing the state’s gun control measures.
“People are just realizing the brand new Virginia is not the Virginia I grew up in and my kids are not going to grow up in the same level of freedom that I enjoyed and they want to do something about it,” Boyer said. “I think a large part of Virginia is realizing we are not represented by the current legislation and the current Governor.”
On January 30, the Virginia House of Delegates passed seven pieces of legislation dealing with gun control, just over a week after Second Amendment supporters held a rally in Richmond. However, on Monday, Virginia lawmakers rejected a gun control bill proposed by Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam.
West Virginia’s Governor Jim Justice (R) has the bold vision of his state, which he often calls a “diamond in the rough,” competing on the national stage. But with an aging population, West Virginia is projected to lose one of its three seats in the U.S. House of Representatives following the 2020 Census.
“I don’t really want to meddle nor will I meddle with what’s going on in Virginia, but if you’re unhappy with where you’re at, and West Virginia is going like West Virginia is going, we want you to come,” Justice told Fox News.
The targeted counties in Virginia include Frederick County, along the border of West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle. Most of the land that comprises of six West Virginia counties was once a part of Frederick County. Virginia lost that land when West Virginia became a state in 1863, after delegates decided to secede form a new state.
Frederick County Board of Supervisors chairman at-large Chuck DeHaven told the Herald-Mail that the county is not interested in leaving Virginia.
Governor Justice, who is currently running for re-election, has said he would welcome Virginians who would like to join the Mountain State. He is facing a primary challenge from multiple Republicans, including his former Secretary of Commerce, Woody Thrasher. Thrasher resigned in June 2018 at Justice’s request after 18 months on the job.
Justice and Liberty University president Jerry Falwell, Jr. made a joint statement in Martinsburg, West Virginia on Tuesday, January 28.
— Jerry Falwell (@JerryFalwellJr) January 28, 2020
“We need a state government that is not elected by federal workers in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., that will protect our God-given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and I believe West Virginia will do just that,” Falwell, Jr. said.
One section of the West Virginia bill states that, “The Legislative body of West Virginia believes that this latest action defies the wise counsel which has come down to us in the august words of our common Virginia Founders…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.'”
The bill also cites the rapid shift in the overall political landscape of Virginia as a reason for the proposed addition of these counties.
Moreover, if Frederick County were to join West Virginia, the county would become the Mountain State’s second largest. It would have six seats in the House of Delegates and two senators in the Senate, according to the resolution.
“The people of the Southside, the Shenandoah Valley, Southwestern Virginia, and the Piedmont also believe that, currently, a scheme of representation exists by which the citizens of Southside, the Shenandoah Valley, Southwestern Virginia, and the Piedmont do not have a proper share of representation in the government at Richmond,” the legislation reads.
The legislation “extends an invitation to our fellow Virginians who wish…to join us in our noble experiment of 156 years of separation from the government at Richmond.”
If the bill passes, Virginia counties and cities have until August 1 to request admission into West Virginia. This would require approval from the Virginia General Assembly. If that approval were to be granted, West Virginia voters would decide whether or not to accept the municipalities seeking admission to the state as part of the general election in November.
“You’re wasting your time,” Robert Wells, Vice Chairman of the Board of Supervisors for Frederick County, told MetroNews. “I don’t see Virginia, any portion of Virginia, joining West Virginia for any reason whatsoever.”
The West Virginia House of Delegates will vote on the resolution next. The Republican Party holds 58 of the 100 seats in the House.