ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — As more and more counties across Virginia vote to designate themselves 'Second Amendment sanctuaries,' the Rockingham County Board of Supervisors has set the details of their hearing on the topic coming up next week.
As of Wednesday, following more decisions Tuesday night, including Page County voting unanimously for their resolution, at least 40 counties and cities have taken the step of passing the symbolic measures.
Wednesday night at 6 p.m., the Augusta County Board of Supervisors is hearing from the public at Stuarts Draft High School in a meeting that packed the school auditorium.
Similar meetings of other Virginia county boards have broken attendance records, bringing out hundreds of people even in counties with very low populations.
The Rockingham County Board of Supervisors has planned their meeting for Dec. 11, following previously scheduled discussions.
First, they'll hold their regularly scheduled meeting at 3 p.m. at 20 East Gay Street in Harrisonburg. Then, they'll recess for dinner and hold a scheduled 6 p.m. public hearing regarding proposed land-use matters.
Once that hearing is done, the board will recess the meeting and head to Spotswood High School, at 368 Blazer Drive, Penn Laird, Va., for a public hearing on legislation about becoming a Second Amendment sanctuary. Holding the meeting at the high school gives them extra space.
They expect public comment to begin around 7:15 p.m., but the start time may vary depending on the 6 p.m. hearing.
Seating will open to the public at 6:30 p.m.
The movement of counties declaring themselves 'Second Amendment sanctuaries' – 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 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, but ne gun control bill has already been proposed by a Democrat that's created a stir on social media: 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."
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' citizens.
Chairman Davis, with Dinwiddie County, which adopted one of the measures, said their 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."