With their majority running out of days on the calendar, Republican leaders of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors are considering a resolution proclaiming the county a so-called Second Amendment sanctuary.
On Tuesday, more than 30 people asked the supervisors to follow the example of other more rural Virginia counties in response to Democrats taking control of the state’s legislature after November victories — wins at least partially attributed to support for gun law reforms.
The new year will also usher in new Democratic leadership in Prince William — the county’s board will go from a 6-2 Republican majority to a 5-3 Democratic majority when new members take the oath in early January.
Many of the sanctuary resolution supporters Tuesday night wore bright orange stickers that said “Guns save lives.”
The Second Amendment states, “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.” It has been the basis of many challenges to gun law reforms on the state and national level.
One person Tuesday spoke against the proposed resolution, while more than 30 people discussed how gun rights were enshrined in the state‘s and country’s Constitutions and how they own guns to protect themselves.
One resolution supporter asked the board to send a message to Richmond that they can’t infringe on the rights of residents.
The terms for the current board of county supervisors continue until Dec. 31, giving the GOP-led board just enough time to consider any proposed resolution on the matter.
At-large Chair Corey Stewart said a board supervisor could propose the resolution at the Dec. 3 meeting and the board could consider voting on it at its Dec. 10 meeting.
Stewart told InsideNoVa on Wednesday he thinks the proposed resolution is a good idea, but it would have to be written properly.
“Unfortunately, in pre-file legislation in the General Assembly, there’s a number of bills that would curb Second Amendment rights in Virginia and obviously people are really concerned about that,” Stewart said. “I was surprised at the level of very vocal concerns that were expressed in Prince William here in Northern Virginia last night and obviously that these Second Amendment sanctuary resolutions have been popping up all over the state.”
Stewart said a proposed resolution could say that the county will not use law enforcement resources to enforce a state law that is passed after Jan. 1 that restricts gun rights.
Stewart said he’s aware that even if the board can pass the resolution in December, the new board of county supervisors, whose terms start in January, could overturn the resolution.
“People care a lot about this,” he said. “This is a lightning rod issue, anytime you’re dealing with gun rights, that gets people going on both sides.”
Supervisor Pete Candland, R-Gainesville, asked the county’s attorney to look at implications and effects if the board adopts the proposed resolution to make the county a Second Amendment sanctuary county.
Stewart asked Michelle Robl, county attorney, to complete a report by Dec. 3, but no later than a few days before the Dec. 10 meeting.
At the Tuesday meeting, Lawson said she will read emails and template resolution and Candland said he's trying to digest the proposed resolution.
Rappahannock County’s board will weigh a similar request for a sanctuary resolution at its meeting Dec. 2, reports John McCaslin at the Rappahannock News.
That resolution in part reads:
“WHEREAS, the Rappahannock County Board of Supervisors is concerned about about the passage of any bill containing language which could be interpreted as infringing the rights of the citizens of Rappahannock County to keep and bear arms… [the resolution would] direct the law enforcement and employees of Rappahannock County to not enforce any unconstitutional law.”
Such a resolution, if approved, is not legally binding, but an expression of public stance as interpreted by elected representatives, McCaslin noted.
Similar resolutions have passed recently in Pittsylvania, Campbell, Appomattox, Charlotte, Carroll, Dinwiddie, Dickenson, Lee, Nottoway, Patrick, and Giles counties in Virginia.