Ann Wheeler, chairman-elect of Prince William’s board of county supervisors, said she would repeal a “Second Amendment sanctuary” resolution if it were approved by the outgoing board.
But it remained unclear this week what action the incoming board will take in response to a watered-down measure declaring Prince William a “constitutional county.”
“Right now, we are still discussing that,” Supervisor-elect Kenny Boddye, a Democrat who was elected in the Occoquan District, said Friday. “The language [of the approved resolution] changed significantly.”
The revised resolution approved by outgoing supervisors Dec. 11 didn't include the term “Second Amendment sanctuary” and omitted any promise that local funds would not be used to enforce state and federal gun laws. As a result, the measure does little more than affirm the board’s support and recognition of the Second Amendment rights of county residents pursuant to the state and federal constitutions.
“All I can say right now is that I obviously support the Second Amendment. All of us do,” Boddye said.
An emailed statement signed by all five Democrats who will serve on the board next year, including Wheeler, said the board of supervisors will always uphold the Constitution. But the statement did not say whether the board would take action to repeal the measure.
“The resolution passed by the current Board of Supervisors was an attempt to start an unnecessary fight over gun rights. Instead of picking fights, a board should be a body that bridges communities,” the statement said.
The original “sanctuary” resolution, introduced by at-large Chairman Corey Stewart before the meeting, would have restricted the use of county funds to enforce any new federal and state gun laws.
Stewart introduced the modified resolution to declare the county a “constitutional county” about 12:15 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 11, at the end of a marathon board meeting that attracted about 1,000 people. About 70 people spoke in favor of the original resolution, while five spoke against it.
Supervisor Ruth Anderson, R-Occoquan, who was defeated by Boddye in the Nov. 5 election, said the day before the vote she would not support a “sanctuary” resolution that could confuse the role of local law-enforcement as to whether new gun regulations would be enforced.
After the vote, Supervisors Maureen Caddigan, R-Potomac, and Marty Nohe, R-Coles, said they also would not have supported a “sanctuary” resolution. Their “no” votes, along with those of Supervisors Frank Principi, D-Woodbridge, and Victor Angry, D-Neabsco, would have killed the measure.
Stewart said the version the board approved omitted the word “sanctuary” because concerns about possible confusion with the concept of “sanctuary” cities and counties that don’t cooperate with federal immigration enforcement.
Still, Stewart downplayed the wording change after the vote, saying: “It’s almost identical in terms of its effect.”
Stewart further downplayed the wording switch on Facebook. When some commenters questioned how Prince William’s “constitutional county” resolution differed from those declaring localities “Second Amendment sanctuaries,” Stewart said there isn’t much difference.
“The message is key. Don’t get hung up on the variations in the wording of the resolutions. We’re on a roll. Keep it going,” Stewart said in his post.
In an email, Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizen’s Defense League, said in his opinion, the resolution makes Prince William County a “Second Amendment sanctuary” but added that it is “a weak one.”
Cozy Bailey, president of the Prince William NAACP, sent a letter to members of the organization after the vote to try to clear up confusion stemming from inaccurate news reports saying Prince William’s board approved a gun “sanctuary” resolution.
In his letter, Bailey explained the resolution did not include the word “sanctuary” and made no mention of the county not complying with any new gun safety measures should they pass.
In an interview, Bailey said the board’s action was a “nothing-burger.”
“It’s real intent was to incite emotion among people who are very concerned about their right to bear arms. Unfortunately, it appears it was very successful at that,” Bailey said.
Bailey is the husband of Supervisor-Elect Andrea Bailey, a Democrat who will represent the Potomac District on the board of supervisors in January.