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Mecklenburg supes enact gun sanctuary resolution

SoVaNow.com / December 11, 2019
It was standing room only Monday night at the Mecklenburg County Board of Supervisors meeting in Boydton as more than 200 people sporting orange “Guns Save Lives” stickers packed the hearing room of the Hudgins Courthouse. The crowd turned out to urge board members to declare Mecklenburg County a “Second Amendment sanctuary.”

The 2A Sanctuary resolution introduced by Supervisor Gregg Gordon passed by a vote of 8-1 with only Supervisor Claudia Lundy voting in opposition. Lundy gave no reason for her vote.

The resolution expresses the intent of Mecklenburg County to withhold the use of public funds that, if spent, would “unconstitutionally restrict Second Amendment rights or aid in the unconstitutional restriction of the rights under the Second Amendment of the citizens of Mecklenburg County to keep and bear arms.” The resolution further calls for county staff to forward the resolution to Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, state Sen. Frank Ruff and Del. Tommy Wright, who represent Mecklenburg in the General Assembly and to the Virginia Association of Counties.

The crowd stood and clapped following the vote and there were a few whistles, but otherwise audience members listened quietly as Gordon, the board’s vice chair, read the proposed resolution and Sheriff Bobby Hawkins explained why he’d asked supervisors to add their support to this grassroots movement.

Hawkins thanked supervisors for allowing him to “share his voice and the voice of the people of the county” adding that he “appreciates the people who came out to support the [2A] resolution.”

To date, the 2A Sanctuary Resolution, as it is called, has been adopted by some dozen rural communities, including nearby Halifax and Charlotte counties. It is a rebuff to what many gun rights advocates say is an unconstitutional attempt to take away their guns. So far legislators in Virginia have introduced 13 pieces of legislation related to gun possession, ownership and use that are destined to be heard during the 2020 General Assembly session.

The 2A Resolutions are seen, for the most part, as symbolic. Still, local leaders and others are hoping legislators, particularly those in urban areas who are pushing gun control, will take notice and at the very least tailor their legislation to not infringe on the rights of hunters and sport shooters.

Last week in response to the flood of 2A Sanctuary Resolutions, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring made clear his intent to enforce any gun control legislation enacted into law.

“When Virginia passes these gun safety laws they will be followed, they will be enforced.” Herring also suggested the reaction by those supporting the 2A Sanctuary movement was driven by fear “ginned up by the gun lobby” and not a reasoned response to the proposed legislation.

“What we’re talking about here are laws that will make our communities and our streets safer. We’re talking about universal background checks, finally, maybe, Virginia will pass universal background checks to make sure that people who are dangerous, who are criminals and who aren’t permitted to buy guns, won’t be able to buy guns,” said Herring.

In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, upheld the right of U.S. citizens to possess firearms. The majority did not say that right was unfettered. It carved out exceptions, allowing for laws that ban the use of sawed-off shotguns and other similar weaponry and laws that prohibit gun ownership and possession by criminals and the mentally ill. The rights of individual gun owners were strengthened by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2010 when in another 5-4 decision, Justices held that Second Amendment rights apply to States.

The bills that gave rise to the call for sanctuary status include universal background checks, bans on bump stocks and high capacity magazines. Legislation sponsored by incoming Senate Majority Leader Richard Saslaw (D-Springfield) that would make it illegal to purchase or possess semi-automatic rifles has drawn the particular ire of gun rights groups.

Many gun owners already own at least one semi-automatic rifle that they purchased legally. Some law enforcement officials, including Hawkins, worry that the language will turn legal gun owners into criminals overnight. Gunowners see the bill as a thinly veiled attempt to take away their guns.

Wright was present for Monday night’s vote, though he did not address the crowd. Wright (R-Victoria) currently serves as the chair of the House Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee. Come January, Democrats will hold a majority on that committee, which is likely to hold the initial hearings on gun control measures.

Following the vote, Supervisor Jim Jennings praised the public supporters of the sanctuary resolution for “orderly behavior” and their “attendance at the meeting.” Chairman Glenn Barbour added his wish that every meeting of the board would draw large crowds.

Mecklenburg County’s 2A Resolution:

RESOLUTION OF THE MECKLENBURG COUNTY

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS

IN SUPPORT OF SECOND AMENDMENT RIGHTS

WHEREAS, the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution reads: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed;” and

WHEREAS, Article I, Section 13 of the Constitution of Virginia provides “that a well-regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state, therefore, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power”; and

WHEREAS, certain legislation introduced in the 2019 session of the Virginia General Assembly, and certain legislation introduced in the current session of the United States Congress could have the effect of infringing on the rights of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms, as guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution; and

WHEREAS, the Mecklenburg County Board of Supervisors is concerned about the passage of any bill containing language which unconstitutionally infringes upon the Second Amendment rights of the citizens of Mecklenburg County; and

WHEREAS, the Mecklenburg County Board of Supervisors wishes to express its deep commitment to the rights of all citizens of Mecklenburg County to keep and bear arms; and

WHEREAS, the Mecklenburg County Board of Supervisors wishes to express opposition to any law that would unconstitutionally restrict the rights under the Second Amendment of the citizens of Mecklenburg County to keep and bear arms; and

WHEREAS, the Mecklenburg County Board of Supervisors wishes to express its intent to stand as a Sanctuary County for Second Amendment rights and to oppose, within the limits of the Constitutions of the United States and the Commonwealth of Virginia, any efforts to unconstitutionally restrict the constitutional rights of the citizens to keep and bear arms.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT THE MECKLENBURG BOARD OF SUPERVISORS hereby expresses its intent to uphold the Second Amendment rights of the citizens of Mecklenburg County and hereby expresses its intent that public funds of the County not be used to unconstitutionally restrict Second Amendment rights or to aid in the unconstitutional restriction of the rights under the Second Amendment of the citizens of Mecklenburg County to keep and bear arms; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Mecklenburg County Board of Supervisors hereby declares its intent to oppose unconstitutional restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms, and that the Mecklenburg County Board of Supervisors hereby declares the County a “Second Amendment Sanctuary”; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a copy of this resolution shall be forwarded by the County staff to the Governor of Virginia, to Virginia legislators who represent Mecklenburg County, and to the Virginia Association of Counties.

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