Del. Lee Carter says he won’t be in Richmond during the Monday, Jan. 20 pro-gun-rights rally at the Virginia Capitol because of death threats he’s received over his bill to make it legal for most state and local government employees, but not law enforcement officers, to go on strike.
Gun-rights activists on social media were angered by Carter’s bill HB 67 and incorrectly claimed the bill aims to fire law enforcement officers in “Second Amendment sanctuary” counties who decline to enforce new gun laws.
If passed, Carter’s bill would not change Virginia law as it currently applies to law enforcement officers, who have been banned from striking in Virginia for over 50 years.
Since filing the bill in December, Carter, D-50th, has reported numerous threatening messages to Virginia Capitol Police and said Capitol Police have referred at least one to Virginia State Police. VSP would not confirm whether they are investigating any death threat against the delegate, however.
VSP Public Relations Director Corinne Geller said in an email that state police are “not able to comment on investigations involving elected officials.”
Carter said he will work from an undisclosed location Monday and will not be at the Capitol where a large pro-gun rights rally is slated to take place. He said it was his own decision not to attend the General Assembly session during the rally.
Conservative media outlets, and even the Wall Street Journal, made Carter’s bill a talking point over the last month as localities across Virginia passed “Second Amendment sanctuary” resolutions. The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board, in an opinion piece published Dec. 29, wrote that Carter’s bill would require “firing police officers who don’t enforce a gun statute” without providing any context for the claim.
Law enforcement officers in Virginia can already be fired for not enforcing Virginia laws. Carter’s bill would not change current Virginia law for law enforcement officers.
Del. Nick Freitas, R-30th, in a Dec. 18 interview with online conservative media outlet Townhall Media, falsely claimed the bill would punish law enforcement in localities that have passed “Second Amendment sanctuary” resolutions and “remove [officers] from their positions for not enforcing state laws.”
Law enforcement officials have said the Jan. 20 Capitol rally will likely draw tens of thousands of gun rights supporters, including out-of-state militias and are taking precautions to reduce the likelihood of violence at the rally.
Gov. Ralph Northam (D) declared a state of emergency Wednesday citing credible threats of violence identified by law enforcement intelligence analysts, including white nationalist rhetoric. On Thursday, the FBI arrested three neo Nazis associated with a violent extremist group that planned to attend the event.
“Available information suggests that a substantial number of these demonstrators are expected to come from outside the commonwealth, may be armed, and have as their purpose not peaceful assembly but violence, rioting, and insurrection,” Northam said Wednesday.
All weapons, including firearms, will be banned from Capitol grounds during the rally.
Reach Daniel Berti at email@example.com