Whiteness and Impunity: Examining Virginia's Second Amendment Sanctuary Movement

Tracy Garnar, Sione Lynn Pili Lister, Jennifer Carlson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


How do people who consider themselves law abiding mobilize against “offensive” laws? Stated differently, how do people assert impunity? Although sociologists robustly document the unequal administration of American law, most focus on the production and legitimation of racial disparities through punishment rather than impunity. We use theories of Whiteness to analyze Virginia’s Second Amendment sanctuary resolutions, illuminating how impunity is reproduced as a White prerogative, to engage sociological debates surrounding race and the legal system. These resolutions draw on an ideology of rights centered on the sanctification of the Constitution to buttress their standing and affirm gun-owning Americans as enactors/defenders of social order by decrying state efforts to restrict gun access. Our analysis suggests that Second Amendment sanctuary supporters assert a relation of impunity between themselves and the law by reflecting and reproducing White habitus and by reconstructing the rule of law through reliance on exclusionary tropes involving American values, tradition, and Constitutionality. Our analysis reveals that resolution supporters routinely asserted Second Amendment sanctuaries as White sanctuaries, tying Whiteness to gun rights and shaping how social structures (including laws) are organized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)597-622
Number of pages26
JournalSociological Inquiry
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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