Democrat Congressman Donald McEachin’s comments about using the National Guard to enforce Governor Ralph Northam’s proposed gun control laws in Virginia has caused a storm of controversy in the state, to the point that the Adjutant General of the Virginia National Guard has issued a statement, after scores of phone calls and emails from concerned citizens and curious media figures. WSLS-TV in Roanoke was the first to report on the comments by Major General Timothy P. Williams.
“We have received multiple questions regarding proposed legislation for the 2020 General Assembly session and the authority of the Governor of Virginia to employ the Virginia National Guard in a law enforcement role. Please make sure you share this message with your all of your personnel.
We understand and respect the passion people feel for the U.S. Constitution and 2nd Amendment rights. We will not speculate about the possible use of the Virginia National Guard. I encourage everyone to be patient while we allow our elected officials to work through the legislative process.
We have not received any requests from the Governor, or anyone on his staff, about serving in a law enforcement role related to any proposed legislation.
I expect our Soldiers, Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force to be professional and respectful in their discussions about this subject. As private citizens, our personnel are free to express their opinions to their elected officials, but they should not engage in any political activity while in a uniformed status.
We will provide regular updates when appropriate during the General Assembly session. Please utilize your chain of command to direct any questions or concerns to my office, and we will do our best to address them.”
For those who were hoping that Maj. General Williams was going to come out swinging with a “Hell no we’re not taking anybody’s guns”, it wasn’t going to happen. Even if that’s how the adjutant general feels, he’s not going to pick a fight with the governor if he doesn’t have to. He can kick this can down the road, at least until and if Northam actually requests that the National Guard go into rural counties to look for people who are allowing their 17-year old daughter to hunt unsupervised on their property, or to try to catch someone transferring a firearm without a background check.
If Northam were actually dumb enough to do that, I suspect what he’d find is yet another crisis of public confidence on his hands. Not only would he have to deal with dozens of counties and cities that have said “no” to unconstitutional gun control laws, he’d create a crisis within the Virginia National Guard, whose members swear to uphold the Constitution. Many of those National Guardsmen are gun owners and Second Amendment supporters as well, and I suspect there would be a genuine fracturing of the organization over the issue.
In fact, if you read between the lines of the adjutant general’s statement, it’s clear that McEachin’s comment is already causing a stir within the Guard itself. The men and women of the Virginia National Guard signed up to defend freedom, not establish a police state on American soil where soldiers search for scofflaws who refuse to register their rifles with the Virginia State Police.
My maternal grandfather was a coal miner who participated in a wildcat strike in Harlan, Kentucky, back in the day. The governor sent in the National Guard to break it up. My grandpa and his cohorts commandeered a jeep-mounted light machine gun, and marched the Guardsmen out of the county with it at their backs. I think they were being too kindly, though. If anyone brings a gun to threaten me with, they better kiss their family goodbye first.