West Virginia lawmaker invites Virginia counties to join his state amid gun control pushback

Virginia gun control debate could push some counties to join West Virginia

As the debate over stricter gun laws rages on in the state capitol of Richmond, Virginia, West Virginia lawmakers have signed on to new legislation that would accept revolting Virginia counties and towns who want to join the Mountain State. West Virginia Delegate Gary Howell discusses this new legislation and if he agrees with some critics who claim a second Civil War is brewing.

One West Virginia legislator is spearheading an effort to allow Virginia counties disgruntled about proposed gun control legislation to leave their state and join their western neighbor.

West Virginia, unlike Virginia’s Democrat-led government, is now controlled by Republicans in the House, the Senate and the governor’s mansion.

GOP House member Gary Howell, chairman of the Committee on Government Organization, told Fox News that 43 out of 100 West Virginia House members are sponsoring a resolution that would let West Virginia accept some of the largely rural Virginia counties unhappy with how things are being run in Richmond.

“It probably originally started as a way just to give them moral support, but it has been snowballing and we have been receiving all kinds of information from people and a lot of questions asking, ‘How do we do this?’ ‘What do we need to do?'” Howell said. “It’s turned fairly serious that some of these counties actually wanna leave, join the state of West Virginia, and we’d like to welcome them in.”

Second Amendment supporters gather on Bank Street outside the Virginia state capitol on Monday.

Second Amendment supporters gather on Bank Street outside the Virginia state capitol on Monday.
(AP/The Virginian-Pilot)

Also Read: 4 gun control bills advance in Virginia’s General Assembly

More than 100 cities and counties in Virginia have declared themselves Second Amendment sanctuary jurisdictions, meaning their local police would not enforce new statewide gun control laws.

“The parts of Virginia that are more like West Virginia and much less like the I-95 corridor and the tidewater region, they’re the ones that are reaching out to us,” Howell said. “As you get closer to the urban areas, they more attuned with big government, a little less freedom, and we don’t see those coming over.”

Howell says anywhere between 30 and 46 counties could potentially take up West Virginia – which split from Virginia around the time of the Civil War due to disagreements over slavery – on the offer.

“We see our brothers really under attack, our way of life. What we have here in West Virginia we treasure, and parts of Virginia treasure that way of life,” Howell said of the areas that could join the state.

The text of the resolution requires any Virginia jurisdictions wanting to join West Virginia to have their citizens vote on the proposal before Aug. 1. West Virginia voters would then have the option to accept those areas in a statewide referendum during the general election in November.

Howell said taxes and pro-life legislation could also be reasons why rural areas in Virginia would want to join his state.

“Give them the opportunity to go someplace where they can be governed the way they want to be,” he said. “This may be a trend in the future to help prevent strife in our country.”

Fox News’ Sam Dorman and the Associated Press contributed to this report.