GILES COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — More counties in Virginia have taken the step of declaring themselves 'Second Amendment sanctuaries' as Virginia Democrats, with a newly obtained legislative majority, propose new gun control legislation.
On Thursday night, the Giles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to become a 'Second Amendment sanctuary,' with over 100 people in attendance at their meeting.
Nearly simultaneously, Dinwiddie County, in a completely different part of Virginia, did the same thing on a unanimous vote as well, with one board member abstaining.
“We have rights to bear arms. Point blank. And our county, we have a lot of hunters, lots of sportsmen that like to sport shoot,” Dinwiddie Supervisor William Chavis said.
The movement of counties declaring themselves 'Second Amendment sanctuaries' – taking their own spin on 'sanctuary cities,' which vowed not to work with ICE to deport undocumented immigrants – began shortly after the election earlier this month in which Democrats won full control of the General Assembly for the first time in decades.
Following that election, many in counties that voted conservative believe that their constitutional rights are threatened.
Very few bills have been filed yet for Virginia's 2020 session, with the pre-filing session having just begun, but one gun control bill has already been proposed by a Democrat: establishing universal background checks.
To counter possible gun control laws, the concept of becoming a 'Second Amendment sanctuary' means that a county expresses its intent that its public funds not be used to restrict Second Amendment rights.
The resolutions aren't legally binding, but put forth a public stance on behalf of counties.
“I’m really glad that somebody in Virginia is stepping up,” said resident Gene Brown at the Dinwiddie County board meeting.
Chairman Davis, with Dinwiddie County, said the resolution doesn't mean they'll ignore state law though.
“We’re not saying ‘No, we’re not going to stand by the law’ or ‘This county isn’t going to stand by the law.' Wrong. Absolutely wrong. We stand firm on the second amendment, we believe we have the right to bear arms.”
Democrat leaders say the concept is unnecessary.
"If you look at what we're doing, I don't think it infringes on anybody's Second Amendment rights," said State Senator John Edwards (D-Roanoke).
Edwards said if people want to challenge legislation passed by the General Assembly, the remedy is to go to court.
"I think people are being paranoid and it's totally unnecessary," Edwards told WDBJ7.
Delegate Chris Head (R-Botetourt) has a different view.
"I think this may be a case in which it is justifiable to be concerned, and so that's not paranoia, that's concern," Head said Wednesday afternoon. "The United States Constitution is incredibly clear and unambiguous when it says the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. Period. And I think what you're seeing is localities simply wanting to make sure the rest of my colleagues in Richmond understand."
So far, no counties in the Shenandoah Valley have officially declared themselves 'Second Amendment sanctuaries' yet, but a number plan to consider it soon.
Augusta County officials told WHSV they are doing research and will likely discuss the idea at an upcoming meeting.
"I'm 100 percent for it," said Jim Wood, store manager of Nuckols Gun Works and firearms instructor for Augusta County. "Our Second Amendment was written to protect us against exactly what is happening right now."
Also completely supporting the move is Sheriff Donald Smith, who posted on Facebook on Nov. 22, saying "I feel that the Board of Supervisors should APPROVE a resolution in favor of affirming the 2nd Amendment which protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms."
The Augusta County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, November 26, is expected to be packed with proponents and opponents of the measure.
In Rockingham County, county administrators confirmed to WHSV that the topic of becoming a 'Second Amendment sanctuary' is on the agenda for their meeting coming up on Dec. 11 at 6 p.m.