It’s far fetched and no one is taking it seriously — yet. But there are some Virginia counties that border West Virginia that are talking about secession from the Old Dominion and joining the Mountain State.
Just a lot of chatter, right? True, but the fact that people are even talking about it shows how serious the situation is getting in Virginia. As of January 16, 105 Virginia cities and counties had passed some kind of resolution declaring themselves “sanctuary” locations for gun owners.
Who would have predicted that six months ago?
In a building fight that echoes the Civil War-era split of the Old Dominion that created West Virginia in 1863, 40 of 100 West Virginia House delegates have signed on to legislation that would accept revolting Virginia counties and towns.
The effort began after the November elections when urban and suburban voters put the Virginia General Assembly into Democratic hands. Many of those Democrats ran on a platform of restricting and banning guns.
“We’re starting to get some phone calls from friends on the border who say these folks want to leave,” said West Virginia Del. Gary Howell.
Howell, a Republican, told Secrets that what started off as a long-shot effort “has turned into a real thing.”
It’s not just gun rights that has the western Virginia citizens up in arms.
He said that Virginia lawmakers and officials along the West Virginia border have cited the Democratic drive for gun control and desire to shift spending to the urban areas near Washington as reasons to leave for West Virginia.
In his bill, HCR 8, Howell and his team wrote about the urban-rural battle. “These tensions have been compounded by a perception of contempt on the part of the government at Richmond for the differences in certain fundamental political and societal principles which prevail between the varied counties and cities of that Commonwealth.”
But it is gun rights that are at the core of the dissatisfaction. And West Virginia stands ready to assist in any way possible — including welcoming dissident counties into their state.
The bottom line in the legislation: “In a spirit of conciliation, the legislature of West Virginia hereby extends an invitation to our fellow Virginians who wish to do so, to join us in our noble experiment of 156 years of separation from the government at Richmond; and, we extend an invitation to any constituent county or city of the Commonwealth of Virginia to be admitted to the body politic of the state of West Virginia.”
So, is this simple fodder for the internet? Clickbait for websites? A fantasy of gun kooks and white supremacists?
Some sober-minded politicians are taking it seriously.
One county that could lead the way with or without the legislation is Frederick, some 70 miles from Washington. It still has an open invitation from the 1800s to join West Virginia, and some members of the county board of supervisors have expressed support for a vote to leave.
In the West Virginia Senate, Sen. Charles Trump has offered a resolution urging Frederick County to join West Virginia.
How serious this situation gets depends entirely on Governor Ralph Northam and the Democrats in Richmond. They claim they are just getting started putting restrictions on gun rights. The more they push, the more serious will become the desire of some counties to leave.
Whatever happens, Virginia will never be the same.