The Fauquier County Board of Supervisors firmly supports the right to keep and bear arms and rejects any infringement of that right. As such, the board declared it “a constitutional county."
The resolution the board unanimously approved Monday, Dec. 23, does not state the county will block enforcement of any gun laws the Virginia General Assembly could enact during its 2020 session.
Rather, the resolution says the board strongly condemns threats from the governor and members of the General Assembly to withhold funds to localities that have gone on record in support of the right to keep and bear arms.
It also condemns threatened actions by state officials to place the National Guard or other state agencies or officials in opposition to local law enforcement and citizens.
It also opposes bills introduced “that would criminalize the lawful exercise of the right to keep and bear arms.”
The resolution states that the Fauquier supervisors oppose the passage of any law that would unconstitutionally restrict the rights of citizens under either the U.S. or Virginia Constitution.
The outcome of the vole prompted cheers and applause from the audience that packed the 50-seat capacity supervisors meeting room at the Warren Green building in Warrenton.
Garland Heddings, of Catlett, said, “Hooray for them,” speaking of the supervisors. Heddings said he’s a gun owner.
“When they come and get it I don’t plan on turning it over,” he said, expressing the view that new gun laws could puts restrictions on gun owners.
“The 2,000 people that were here showed them the way the county thinks,” said Virginia Worman, of Midland, speaking of the crowd that turned out on Dec. 12 when the supervisors heard public comments and then postponed a vote.
Worman said people “need to exercise their right to vote” in elections in order to get the elected officials they want.
Board Chairman Chris Butler, R-Lee, read the two-page resolution, then Supervisor Rick Gerhardt, R-Cedar Run, introduced the motion to accept. Supervisor Chris Granger, R-Center, couldn’t attend the meeting but voted through a remote hook-up.
None of the supervisors spoke when they had the opportunity before the vote was taken, but Butler said afterward, “We stand behind the constitution as it’s written, not only the Second Amendment but all of it, both the U.S. and state.”
Supervisor Mary Leigh McDaniel, I-Marshall, said “the board worked together on legislation that is balanced. We were getting comments from both sides of the issue.”
Supervisor Holder Trumbo, R-Scott, declined to comment on his vote. Gerhardt said he had nothing more to add to the comments he made during the Dec. 12 supervisors meeting. He told the pro-gun rights audience at that time “we heard you loud and clear.” He said the resolution should be one that all of the supervisors could vote for.
The resolution calls on the state to provide more money for firearms education, to waive the sales tax on gun safes and gun safety locks, provide strong penalties for adults that allow children unsafe access to firearms and provide more funds for school resource officers.
The Dec. 23 action completed a meeting begun Dec. 12. A public comment period held then drew more than 70 speakers, all but two calling for an affirmation of Second Amendment rights. The Dec. 12 meeting drew a crowd of 2,000, based on a Fauquier Sheriff’s Office estimate.
Butler sought a delay of the vote until Monday’s reconvened meeting.
The Virginia Citizens Defense League, a gun rights advocacy group, has been promoting passage of Second Amendment resolutions in counties and municipalities. By its count, more than 100 have approved a resolution of some kind.
Prince William County supervisors on Dec. 11 voted to approve a constitutional county resolution.
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, in response to a legislators’ request for a legal opinion, said on Dec. 20 “these resolutions have no legal effect."
"It is my further opinion that localities and local constitutional officers cannot nullify state laws and must comply with gun violence prevention measures that the General Assembly may enact,” Herring's opinion states.
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