The Commonwealth has a well known reputation as an anti-labor jurisdiction which includes prohibiting any public agency from engaging in collective bargaining with a labor organization (Sec. 40.1-57.2). Not satisfied with that ban, Virginia has also codified punishment for any public employees who engage in a labor strike. Thus, even if the state eliminated its collective bargaining ban, public employees would continue to face being punished with lack of employment for up to 12 months (Sec. 40.1-55 et al.).
In an effort to encourage public employee unionization, Del. Lee Carter, D-5oth (Prince William, Manassas City) proposed HB 67 to rescind the punishments for labor strikes. The bill, however, for reasons of public safety and policy, excluded law enforcement personnel. This conscious exclusion has become the target of radical right-wing gun advocates claiming that the legislation is a conspiracy to force local law enforcement to support state gun control laws. As a result, Carter has received a number death threats over his bill, some of which were deemed serious enough to report to law enforcement.
According to the Delegate, however, much of the rancor stems from a malicious misrepresentation of his proposal. State law currently mandates that all public employees (including law enforcement) who strike be fired and deemed ineligible for public employment for 12 months. This would not change under his bill.
Rather, some individuals and groups on social media have falsely claimed that Carter is targeting local law enforcement, i.e. sheriff’s offices and commonwealth attorneys, at a time when these constitutional officers are being encouraged by gun rights advocates to refuse to enforce any new gun laws expected to win approval in Richmond this year. For example, a Facebook post by Lodge 5 of the Fraternal Order of Police Associates (Charlottesville) states, “32 year-old Lee Jim Carter (VA-50th District), member of the Democratic Socialists of America has put forth a bill to remove law enforcement officers from office if they won’t enforce unconstitutional gun laws.” [Emphasis added.]
The epidemic fever for second amendment sanctuaries has apparently further eroded any cognitive capacity on the radical right.
Conspiracy theories and ideological blindness contrive to cause a militant few to abandon their common stake with other public employees. This type of kamikaze mentality reaches far too deep in our civic culture, encouraging tyranny by the minority. Take a close look at the statement in the accompanying image to this article.
The epidemic fever for second amendment sanctuaries has apparently further eroded most cognitive capacity on the radical right. Neither sheriffs nor Commonwealth’s attorneys were elected to render their individual judgments on the constitutionality of state laws. Once upon a time, we were directed to look under every bed for a Commie; now we have radicals distorting information and purposely fanning flames of lawlessness. Years had elapsed before Senator Joe McCarthy was finally asked, “Have You No Sense of Decency, Sir?” when he attacked the US Army. The identical query may now apply to the radical right.