Nelson County board joins dozens of others to become a 2nd Amendment sanctuary

Nelson County community rallies to become Second Amendment sanctuary | Credit: WVIR
Nelson County community rallies to become Second Amendment sanctuary | Credit: WVIR(WHSV)
Published: Dec. 10, 2019 at 1:54 PM EST
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Nelson County became the latest locality in Virginia to declare itself a Second Amendment sanctuary on Tuesday afternoon.

In a 4-1 vote, the Nelson County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution, similar to that which has been passed by over 40 other localities, in support of their citizens' Second Amendment rights.

The Nelson County courthouse was packed with people there for the decision, but even before the hearing, the night before, poor weather didn’t stop people from packing the parking lot at the courthouse advocating for it in a rally.

"We don't have anybody carrying weapons, nobody's in tactical gear. We're just sane Americans and we just like to hunt we like to shoot guns. It’s all legal and we want everybody to know that we're normal folks,” organizer Don Heres said.

Nelson County's decision on Tuesday followed multiple similar decisions made Monday night. In the Shenandoah Valley, Shenandoah County's board

to become a Second Amendment sanctuary.

"They and we want to send a loud signal to the General Assembly and the governor that they do not want these restrictive gun laws to be passed," said Shenandoah County supervisor Brad Pollack.

Also approving similar resolutions Monday night to become Second Amendment Sanctuaries were the city of Galax, the town of Grottoes, the town of Rocky Mount, Rockbridge County, and Bedford County.

“This movement has spread across the 5th District, where almost half of the counties already have passed such a resolution,” 5th District Congressman Denver Riggleman said.

Riggleman sent out a video message on Monday night urging the board of supervisors to support the resolution.

“The Second Amendment is a Constitutional right for all Americans that should not be infringed, and I stand with all those who are exercising their First Amendment right to free speech on this important issue," Riggleman said.

Nelson Supervisor Jesse Rutherford says he feels the discussion is bringing communities across the commonwealth closer together.

“For the first time, I feel like we're coming together as a community on the issues that matter, and of course I want to recreate this energy in many other aspects, whether that's education or the drug crisis."

Also voting Monday night to become a Second Amendment Sanctuary were the city of Galax, the town of Grottoes, the town of Rocky Mount, Rockbridge County, and Bedford County.

Democrat leaders have said 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, a Democrat from Roanoke.

In the Shenandoah Valley,


have already voted to adopt similar resolutions in recent weeks.

The Rockingham County Board of Supervisors

on Wednesday, Dec. 11.

The city of Staunton is not planning a specific hearing on the topic, but the city's sheriff

to attend an upcoming city council meeting to make their voices heard.

Many other localities are still in the process of discussing taking the step.

The concept of becoming a 'Second Amendment Sanctuary' is essentially one in which counties, cities, or towns vote to adopt a resolution declaring their intent that public tax money in their jurisdiction not be used for any measures that violate the Second Amendment.

The movement – a conservative 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 Virginia General Assembly for the first time in decades.

Many people in areas that voted along conservative lines believe that their constitutional rights may be threatened under a Democratic-controlled legislature.

Not many bills have been filed for Virginia's 2020 session yet, but one gun control bill has been proposed by a Democrat that's created a stir on social media and pushed the conversation on guns: SB 16, which would make it a Class 1 misdemeanor "to import, sell, barter, or transfer any firearm magazine designed to hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition" and expand the definition of "assault firearm" under Virginia law, prohibiting anyone from possessing a gun that meets the new definition of "assault firearm." Possessing or transporting a gun under the new definition of an "assault firearm" would become a Class 6 felony.

Senate Bill 18 would raise the age for purchasing a firearm in Virginia to 21 and require mandatory background checks for any transfer of firearms, instructing State Police to establish a process for people to obtain the 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, and any challenge that would result to laws passed next year would go to the courts, but the resolutions put forth a public stance on behalf of counties' or cities' citizens.