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Second Amendment rights

In counties across Virginia, residents are already sending a strong message to Richmond that they will not simply accept Democratic efforts to infringe on their Second Amendment Rights.

First and foremost, I want to make it clear that I stand with the citizens of the 59th district in support of our Second Amendment rights.

Appomattox County and Campbell County have already passed resolutions, with Buckingham County is voting on a Second Amendment Resolution soon.

Enforcing the laws that we have — laws that keep guns out of the hands of criminals — and punishing those who commit crimes with guns have proven time and again to be key to reducing gun violence.

We still don’t know what the Democrats will pass and what the governor will sign, but they will have made it very clear that they want to infringe on our rights in a significant way.

That being said, it’s important to realize that Virginia is a Dillon Rule state. That means that local governments can’t override state laws.

That makes these resolutions symbolic but no less important. Counties are sending a very clear message to Democrats in Richmond that the public has no appetite for overreach regarding our Second Amendment.

How these yet-to-be passed laws will be enforced falls to our local constitutional officers — specifically our commonwealth’s attorneys and sheriffs. In most counties, the sheriff’s department determines how the laws are enforced.

Republicans in Richmond will do everything in our power to stop bad bills and make it clear to Democrats that infringing on our rights is unacceptable.

At the same time, everyone should realize that these resolutions are non-binding. Virginia vests the power to enforce laws in our county with our elected sheriffs and commonwealth attorneys.

These county-level constitutional officers are the ones who will have to make a decision about how to move forward once the Democrats finally enact their legislation.

I encourage you all to stay involved and make sure your local officials — and your elected representatives in Richmond, including the governor — know how you feel.

Rather than engage in partisan politics, we are committed to a thoughtful and deliberative response based on facts and evidence, not political talking points. Virginia took a thoughtful approach following the shooting at Virginia Tech, and following the shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Virginia is already one of the safest states in the nation.

Virginia’s mortality rate from firearms, including suicide, is 18th out of 50. That’s better than states with much stricter gun control like Colorado and Maryland.

In 2017, the latest year for which comprehensive statistics are available, show that of the 1,041 deaths from firearms in Virginia some 600 or more were the result of self-harm.

Virginia has one of the lowest violent crime rates in the nation: only New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine are lower. Meanwhile, the District of Columbia has a rate nearly five times that of Virginia, Maryland more than double.

The violent crime rate in Virginia is well below the national average, 208.2 compared to 394 — the fourth lowest in the nation.

Del. C. Matthew Fariss represents Buckingham in the Virginia House of Delegates. His email address is DelMFariss@house.virginia.gov.