West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. are urging unhappy Virginia counties to secede and join a neighboring state where Democrats aren't in charge.
Their invitation Tuesday to join West Virginia added weight to a backlash against Virginia Democrats' push for gun control.
During a news conference, Justice and Falwell acknowledged that the idea is a long shot but spoke about it seriously.
"I'd like to welcome everyone, everywhere to come to West Virginia and experience all the freedom and beauty our state has to offer," Justice said at a news conference at Blue Ridge Community and Technical College in Martinsburg, near the Virginia-West Virginia line.
"Our state supports personal freedom, and we value the Second Amendment and the rights of the unborn. Come join us. You will never regret it," he continued.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch dubbed the effort "Vexit," like the United Kingdom's Brexit vote to leave the European Union. The paper quoted lawmakers' criticism of the idea.
"What are they doing, a comedy routine?" said Sen. Emmett Hanger, R-Augusta.
Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw, D-Fairfax, called the proposal "preposterous" and said Justice should focus on West Virginia's problems and "not screw around in Virginia."
This month, the West Virginia House of Delegates and Senate introduced resolutions inviting parts of Virginia to join West Virginia.
There's been push-back against plans by Virginia's Democratic leadership to pass gun control measures such as universal background checks, a one-handgun-purchase-a-month limit.