The Washington Post editorial board slammed the use of "sanctuary" laws designed to safeguard Second Amendment rights, despite supporting the same policies when they are used to protect illegal immigrants.
In a February 28 editorial, the paper argued local officials should not undermine new gun laws in Virginia.
"Gun-rights activists are free to denounce such laws; they are free to mount legal challenges to their constitutionality," the board wrote. "But unless and until the laws are struck down by a court, no one is free to violate them."
Nearly 150 localities in Virginia have passed Second Amendment "sanctuary" resolutions, pledging to not enforce new gun laws that they consider unconstitutional and taking particular aim at a proposed Red Flag law backed by state Democrats. The newspaper's editorial board called the idea of following through on such measures "alarming" and a threat to the rule of law. But when Washington, D.C., unveiled a "sanctuary" plan that would direct taxpayer dollars to legal representation for illegal immigrants facing deportation, the board said the city was pursuing an "admirable goal."
The discrepancy between the two Washington Post "sanctuary" editorials has fueled distrust among gun owners and advocates. Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, which helped organize the Second Amendment "sanctuary" movement in the state, called the board's position "a complete double standard."
"These gun laws aren't even aimed at criminals," Van Cleave told the Washington Free Beacon. "[The board] said, ‘Well, as long as the illegal alien is not particularly violent, we're okay with the sanctuary.' Well, what about gun owners that aren't violent at all and merely found themselves on the wrong end of the law because the law changed? Suddenly something that was perfectly lawful before, isn't anymore. Now it's okay to take away their civil rights? I just see it as a ridiculous double standard."
In a 2017 editorial on D.C.'s "sanctuary" proposal, the Post argued it was "sensible" for the city to not ask those who are arrested if they are in the country illegally to avoid becoming "an auxiliary deportation force." The board argued the city should cooperate with federal authorities for some illegal immigrants they've arrested while defying them on others.
"Other cities, including New York, have taken steps to protect some ex-convict undocumented immigrants from deportation but not others, depending on the severity of their crimes," the board wrote. "That’s a sound policy, and D.C. officials should take note."
The board offered different advice to Virginia officials hoping to protect gun owners from laws they deem unconstitutional.
"Whether [new gun laws] are popular or not, statewide or locally, is not relevant to a sheriff's obligation to follow and enforce the law," the board said.
Van Cleave said the Post‘s differing approach to "sanctuaries" that protect gun owners is representative of a larger bias at major media outlets against gun owners.
"This is clear bias," he told the Free Beacon. "They want us to forget their position on illegal aliens, hoping we won't remember that, and then they want to come out with a totally different opinion when it deals with guns. Guns always get this special exception at newspapers and other media that isn't fair. It isn't right."
The Washington Post editorial board did not immediately respond to a request for comment.