Constitutional County crowd

About 1,000 people attended the Dec. 10, 2019, meeting of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors to hear debate on declaring Prince William a "Second Amendment sanctuary." The board approved a modified, "constitutional county" resolution in a 6-2 vote.

Supervisors approved a resolution early Wednesday declaring Prince William a “constitutional county” rather than a “Second Amendment sanctuary,” removing language barring local funds from being used to enforce state and federal gun laws.

The board voted in favor of the revised resolution 6 to 2, with Supervisors Frank Principi, D-Woodbridge, and Victor Angry, D-Neabsco, voting against it. About 50 Virginia counties have passed related initiatives – some declaring themselves “sanctuary” counties, others using the more moderate “constitutional county” moniker -- in recent weeks.

The resolution was introduced for the first time at about 12:15 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 11, after the board heard about three hours of public comment on Board Chairman Corey Stewart’s proposed “Second Amendment sanctuary” resolution, which he introduced Tuesday, Dec. 3.

Constitutional County resolution Ruth Anderson

Gun-rights proponents watched from the atrium of the Prince William County McCoart Administration building after midnight Wednesday as Supervisor Ruth Anderson, R-Occoquan, read aloud a revised resolution declaring Prince William a "constitutional county" but not a "Second Amendment sanctuary."

Supervisor Ruth Anderson, R-Occoquan, read the full resolution aloud. It urges state and federal lawmakers to “preserve, uphold and protect” the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens but leaves out sections of the original resolution that stated the county’s intent not to aid federal or state agencies in enforcing measures deemed restrictive of Second Amendment rights. The revised resolution had not been posted on the board of supervisors' website at the time of the vote, but county staffers handed out copies during the meeting.

After Anderson finished reading the measure, Supervisor Marty Nohe, R-Coles, clarified that the resolution did not include the word “sanctuary” and thus asked nothing out of the ordinary from local law enforcement agencies.

“I don’t see in this anything declaring us a ‘sanctuary county,’” Nohe said. 

In an interview after the vote, Stewart, R-At Large, said the original resolution was modified “over the weekend” to remove the word “sanctuary,” which would imply that the county police would not enforce measures deemed unconstitutional.  

Stewart said the resolution was revised after consulting with the county police department and county staff to remove language considered problematic. As an example, Stewart said the “model resolutions” promoted by gun-rights groups asked counties to pay for the legal representation for residents who refused to comply with restrictions on firearms.

Still, Stewart downplayed the change. “It’s almost identical in terms of its effect,” Stewart said of the measure.

Despite the modifications, Angry said he could not support the resolution because it did not offer any remedies for gun violence or offer ideas to promote gun safety.

“I believe in my Second Amendment rights, but I was elected to serve all the people,” Angry said. “… What we have to do is get people together to find solutions.”

Constitutional county line

A line of people extended outside Prince William County's McCoart Administration Building Tuesday, Dec. 10, after the fire marshal said the meeting had reached capacity.

A crowd of over 1,000 people attended the meeting, which ran until 12:30 a.m. 

More than 70 county residents lined up to ask the board to declare Prince William a “Second Amendment sanctuary,” saying gun reforms proposed by state lawmakers ahead of the 2020 General Assembly session, such as universal background checks, extreme risk protective orders and a ban on assault weapons, would violate their constitutional rights.

Nokesville resident Paul Fraser spoke in support of the sanctuary resolution, saying “there would be hundreds of future felons in the room” if the General Assembly passes legislation banning assault-style weapons in Virginia. 

George Dodge, a resident of the Coles District, said the sanctuary resolution would “show that the current board respects the U.S. Constitution,” even though the next board could overturn it when they take office in January. 

Two Republican candidates for U.S. Senate, Mary Knapp and Thomas Speciale, urged the board to adopt the sanctuary resolution. Both are running against Virginia Sen. Mark Warner (D) in the 2020 election.

Just five county residents spoke against the resolution. 

Supervisor-elect Kenny Boddye, D-Occoquan, who will take office in Jan. 2020, also briefly spoke on the matter but didn’t say whether he would support the resolution. After the meeting, Boddye said he would need to read the revised resolution before deciding his position.

Boddye said he had family members who had been victims of gun violence but understood “how folks could be concerned about what’s coming in Richmond.” 

Tuesday’s meeting was the final meeting of the current board of supervisors, which has a 6-2 Republican majority. The new board of supervisors, who take office Jan. 1, will have a 5-3 Democratic majority. 

Chairman-elect Ann Wheeler (D) said the incoming board would repeal any resolution declaring the county a “Second Amendment sanctuary” as soon as possible if the outgoing board approved it.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misspelled the name of Paul Fraser. The Prince William Times regrets the error. 

Staff writer Jill Palermo contributed to this report. Reach Daniel Berti at dberti@fauquier.comand Jill Palermo at jpalermo@fauquier.com

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(5) comments

Harry

So, Corey Stewart, literal embracer and proponent of white supremacists and neo-fascists which in November led the county GOP to humiliation goes a step further to continue making PWC the laughing stock of NOVA. It wasn't surprising that Lawson voted for the resolution in that she was Director of a county based hate group (Jeannie, you've heard of screen shots, correct/) until she had her name removed from the hate groups web site prior to the November election, no surprise about Nohe either, as he goes along to get along, although this will certainly impact his lobbying effort to be appointed to a high level county position. Caddigan's vote was puzzling, in that she is lobbying to anyone that would listen that she wants a school named after her, her vote is disqualifying for that honor. Candland, well he views himself as the only conservative on the Board, and he's probably right, although his representation of a questionable drug organization is all about money, although he doesn't need as much since of the 15 houses on his street, 14 had tax assessments increase by an average of $18,000 while his assessment went down by, what was it? $60,000? Corey, well that's just Corey, living in a county where he has run for every higher office available and managed to lose EVERY time, and in his last pathetic run for Senate garnered about 30% of the PWC vote. The Supervisors who voted for this resolution: oppose back ground checks for purchasers, believe mentally ill should be toting guns, believe 100 round magazines are used for hunting squirrels, think that it's ok for police officers to be out gunned, and on and on.

Joy

Comments like these are not helpful. The article states that about 50 counties have already passed similar legislation. There are only 98 counties in Virginia (and 38 independent cities), so how does this make Prince William County a "laughingstock" when it is in the majority? Do you truly believe yourself, NOVA resident, to be smarter, better informed and educated than those outside the NOVA area? Further, finger pointing and tongue wagging never gets anyone very far. Perhaps a conversation between rational adults about ways we can move our young people away from using violence as a tool and focus their energy to solve the important problems facing us. Limiting personal freedoms promised to the citizens of the United States in the Constitution is not going to solve anything. Conversations where we seek to understand the reasons why this is happening and giving people tools to deal with their anger and frustration with modern life would be much more effective than throwing stones at one another. Because, that just shows young people that it is acceptable to throw stones at people we don't like or disagree with.

Louf

I agree with you in principle, but remember, when you are dealing with the left the never want to have any discussions. They want to impose their will on all of us. This is why we are now in dangerous waters. The left may have started a backlash that they will not be able to contain.

zcxnissan

Nohe was and is a Democrat suckup.

zcxnissan

I have not seen Corey Stewart embracer and proponent of white supremacists. Have seen multiple illegal immigrant sweeps collect scores of criminals, and that's fact. see recent articles.

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