Resolutions passed by local governments declaring themselves "Second Amendment Sanctuaries'' have "no legal effect," Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said Friday.
Since Democrats won majorities in the state Senate and House of Delegates in November, more than 100 cities, towns and counties have passed such resolutions, vowing to oppose any new gun laws they believe violate the Second Amendment.
On Friday, Herring issued an advisory opinion on the resolutions. Herring said localities "cannot nullify state laws'' and must follow gun violence prevention measures passed by the General Assembly.
"These resolutions have no legal force, and they're just part of an effort by the gun lobby to stoke fear,'' Herring said in a statement.
Thousands of gun rights advocates have shown up at county meetings around the state to support the resolutions. Some have vowed to defy new gun restrictions they believe violate their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
Philip Van Cleave, president of the gun rights group Virginia Citizens Defense League, called Herring's advisory opinion "a yawn."
"The whole idea was to send a message from local government representing large numbers of people to say no more gun control,'' Van Cleave said.
Democratic lawmakers and Gov. Ralph Northam have proposed an array of gun control laws, including universal background checks, an assault weapons ban and red flag laws that would allow the temporary removal of guns from someone who is deemed to be dangerous to themselves or others.