County supervisors in both Prince William and Fauquier counties are slated to vote on gun rights resolutions this week. But while the Prince William board will consider declaring the county a “Second Amendment sanctuary,” the Fauquier board has proposed a measure that affirms support for the Second Amendment while endorsing certain gun-safety initiatives.
Prince William supervisors are scheduled to vote Tuesday, Dec. 10, on a resolution similar to those passed by more than 20 Virginia localities. If approved, it would declare the county a “Second Amendment sanctuary” with the aim of restricting the use of county funds to enforce any new federal and state gun laws.
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (D) said last week that “Second Amendment sanctuary” resolutions will have “no legal effect whatsoever.” An official opinion from the attorney general is expected in the coming days.
Fauquier’s board will vote on a resolution Thursday, Dec. 12, to modify its legislative agenda to include several gun-safety measures and to state its support for the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment.
The resolution calls on the General Assembly to waive the sales tax on gun safes and gun locks, strengthen penalties for adults who allow children unsafe access to guns, fund firearms safety training in schools and increase state funding for mental health screening and services. The measure also states the board’s opposition to any legislation that would restore gun rights to convicted felons.
The Fauquier resolution, however, would not declare Fauquier County a “Second Amendment sanctuary” but instead reaffirms the oath taken by each supervisor to support all the provisions of the U.S. and Virginia constitutions.
Fauquier Board Chairman Chris Butler, R-Lee, did not immediately return calls for comment Monday.
It is not yet clear if Prince William County’s Republican-majority board will approve the proposed “Second Amendment sanctuary” resolution, which voices no support for proposed gun safety measures.
Board Chairman Corey Stewart, R-at-large, said Monday he isn’t sure if it has the votes to pass.
“I don’t know if it’s going to pass and I don’t know what the next board is going to do,” Stewart said. “The next board is going to have deal with it however they see fit, but there’s no question that this cannot be ignored by this board or the next board because of the citizen demand.”
Already, at least one of Prince William’s Republican supervisors, Ruth Anderson, has said she will not vote for the measure declaring the county a “Second Amendment sanctuary.”
“I do not want to bring confusion to our police department in terms of enforcement of Virginia laws. However, I do want to state my support for the Second Amendment,” Anderson said.
The remaining board members did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Large crowds are expected to show up in both counties to hear debate on the resolutions. Prince William County spokesman Jason Grant said extra seating will be provided in the lobby of the county’s McCoart Administration building. Open carrying of firearms is permissible inside the building, Grant said.
Prince William County Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Jonathan Perok said the department is aware of the meeting but declined to say whether there would be an increased police presence.
Prince William County’s incoming board of supervisors, who take office Jan. 1, will have a 5-3 Democratic majority. The outgoing board has a 6-2 Republican majority. Chairman-elect Ann Wheeler (D) said the incoming board would repeal a resolution declaring the county a “Second Amendment sanctuary” as soon as possible, if it is approved by the outgoing board.
State Del. Elizabeth Guzman, D-31st, whose district includes parts of both Fauquier and Prince William counties, said she is committed to working with both Fauquier and Prince William counties’ boards of supervisors to address the residents’ concerns but stressed that any new laws passed by the incoming Democratic-majority General Assembly will be constitutional.
"I have always respected the rights of law-abiding gun owners, and the laws we will pass in Richmond this next legislative session will be fully compliant with the Virginia and U.S. constitutions,” Guzman said in a statement.
Guzman went on to say that she shares many of the same priorities outlined in Fauquier’s proposed resolution, including the need for additional mental health screening services, strong penalties for adults who allow children unsafe access to firearms and the need to waive the sales tax on gun safes and locks.
“I am heartened that the Fauquier County board and I share many of the same priorities,” Guzman’s statement said. “I agree with [Attorney General] Mark Herring’s statements from last week where he mentioned that second amendment sanctuary resolutions have no legal effect whatsoever.”
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