The Prince William County Board of Supervisors will set aside, for now, any further discussion on a proposed resolution urging Virginia lawmakers to support a handful of new laws aimed at preventing gun violence.
In an unexpected move Tuesday afternoon, the supervisors voted unanimously to table further debate on a “resolution 10A,” which aimed to “address gun violence prevention in Virginia” by urging state lawmakers to pass gun safety legislation and boost funding for mental health treatment and firearms safety training.
The board had decided last Tuesday, Jan. 7, to delay a vote on the measure and take it up again during its evening session on Tuesday, Jan. 21. The board made that call after hundreds of gun-rights supporters turned out to an afternoon meeting amid a snowstorm to voice their opposition.
The resolution was not mentioned at all on the agenda for the Tuesday, Jan. 14, meeting.
But Supervisor Victor Angry, D-Neabsco, interrupted the meeting shortly after its 2 p.m. start time to propose the measure be set aside indefinitely.
Angry made a motion to remove the resolution from the Jan. 21 agenda and cancel the evening portion of that meeting entirely.
Angry said the board had already heard from the community on the controversial topic during two hours-long meetings -- on Dec. 10 and Jan. 7 -- and said the matter belonged with state lawmakers, not county officials.
“You know, first let’s understand, we are a constitutional county, not a sanctuary county, and I really feel personal about that, because I don’t think we should ever be a sanctuary for anything,” Angry said while making his motion.
“…With that said, I feel very strongly that we really should represent our constituents and allow our constituents to go to Richmond, along with our support of some of those offers of solutions we heard, presenting those forward, and then we see where we go from there.”
On Dec. 10, the outgoing board, which had a 6-to-2 Republican majority, passed a resolution declaring Prince William a “constitutional county” at the urging of gun-right supporters. Former board chair Corey Stewart, a Republican, first proposed declaring the county a “Second Amendment sanctuary” but modified his resolution’s language before the vote, which occurred after midnight on Wednesday, Dec. 11.
Newly elected Board Chair Ann Wheeler, a Democrat, proposed the 10A resolution for the newly elected board’s first meeting. Wheeler said the resolution would not overturn the previous board’s constitutional county resolution, but was intended to voice the board’s support for some of the proposed new gun regulations under debate in Richmond.
Angry also noted that both the December and January meetings were marked by tense moments, including one instance that required police officers to intervene between residents on opposite sides of the issue.
Wheeler, D-At Large, also noted the large meetings required extra staff support.
“This is a state issue that will be dealt with at the state level,” Wheeler said before the vote. “A lot of county resources go toward the large meetings we have, and I will be supporting Supervisor Angry’s motion.”
The motion was seconded by Supervisor Andrea Bailey, D-Potomac, who said: “We are here to serve the people and to be a collective body in serving the people.”
The board’s resolution, which is now on hold indefinitely, would have amended the board’s 2020 state legislative agenda to recommend that state lawmakers:
- Pass the proposed “red flag” law to temporarily limit access to firearms by people deemed dangerous “while preserving due process;”
- Require background checks for all gun purchases through a federal firearms license;
- Limit children’s access to firearms to reduce suicides and accidental shootings;
- Provide additional state funding for firearms safety education;
- Waive the sales tax on gun safes and gun safety locks;
- Strengthen penalties for adults who allow children unsafe access to guns
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