Rockingham County supervisors reject unorganized militia proposal

Published: Feb. 26, 2020 at 10:39 PM EST
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The Rockingham County Board of Supervisors will not adopt a resolution for its citizens to form an unorganized militia. At its meeting Monday night, supervisors explained that they do not have the legal authority to approve it.

"It's a closed issue with us," said William Kyger, the chairman of the Board.

According to Virginia code 44-80, the National Guard, Virginia Defense Force, and the unorganized militia "may be ordered into service by the Governor in such order as he determines." Kyger said the board sought legal counsel, and even though they shared some of the same concerns, they cannot overstep state law.

"We're a Dillon Rule state," said Kyger. "County governments are only given the authority expressly given to them by the General Assembly or expressed in the Constitution of Virginia."

This matter was presented to the board by Brian Robbins, who said an unorganized militia would assist rescue personnel in an event of an emergency. The resolution stated the militia would consist of able-bodied citizens 16 years old to 55, all dressed in khaki trousers and wearing holstered handguns and unloaded semi-automatic rifles.

In proposal, this militia would also protect its members from stricter gun laws proposed by Governor Ralph Northam.

"I believe that they incorrectly decided they don't have the authority to do it," Robbins said. "They're citing 44-80 which says the governor calls the militia into service, but we weren't asking the board to call the militia into service, we're asking them to call a muster. A muster is simply an assembly, and of course, we have legal right to an assembly."

Kyger said he feels confident that county officials can handle emergencies without the help of an unorganized militia.

"We have full confidence in the Sheriff of Rockingham County. He's a dually elected official," Kyger said. "We have a very active volunteer fire and rescue service that Mr. Robbins spoke about, and we appreciate that. Hopefully, Mr. Robbins' group would assist by joining those organizations."

Robbins said he will continue to push the idea forward.

"We are going to continue trying, and there are several avenues that we can go," Robbins said. "We're really hoping to make this a community effort, and not a bunch of people acting on their own."

On Monday, Augusta County also nixed the idea.