SHENANDOAH COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — After decisions by over 40 localities across Virginia, Shenandoah County became the latest to adopt a resolution to become a 'Second Amendment Sanctuary' on Dec. 9.
The crowd at a hearing on whether Shenandoah County should become a 'Second Amendment Sanctuary' turns to face the U.S. flag for the Pledge of Allegiance on Dec. 9 ,2019.
The Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on the decision at a special meeting on Tuesday night.
Hundreds of concerned residents packed Central High School, urging the board to pass the resolution, which opposes any future gun control laws that would infringe on Second Amendment rights.
"The Second Amendment is not to be compromised," said one speaker. "It is a document that our fathers wrote and came together and set it in place for us to live by."
Gun owners from throughout the county expressed their want for the county to take the step at a public hearing last month.
"I think it's very important that we as a collective county and a collective group of citizens stand up and say this is something that is time honored and passed down, something that's very important to the security of our state and our nation," said Matt Spincks at that hearing.
"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 county supervisor Brad Pollack.
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.
On Monday evening, meeting at Central High School, the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors convened in a gymnasium packed with county residents.
The Rockingham County Board of Supervisors will hear from the public on the topic on Dec. 11.
The city of Staunton is not planning a specific hearing on the topic, but the city's sheriff recently called on the public 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.
More than 40 other Virginia localities have joined the recent movement to become 'Second Amendment Sanctuaries,' 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 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: 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.