IW eyed as 2nd Amendment sanctuary

Published 7:30 pm Tuesday, November 19, 2019

By Diana McFarland


The Virginia Citizens Defense League wants Isle of Wight residents to push the Board of Supervisors into becoming a Second Amendment Sanctuary. 

The Board meets Thursday at 6 p.m. and the VCDL is urging residents to turn out in force to “get the conversation moving,” according to a call for action email sent out by the Richmond-based gun rights lobbying organization. 

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Three Virginia counties — Charlotte, Carroll and Campbell — have passed resolutions making their localities Second Amendment sanctuaries. 

The movement is in response to the Nov. 5 election, when Democrats took control of the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate. Democrats already held the Governor’s Mansion. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

Democrats will likely consider several new gun control measures in the upcoming General Assembly session, including universal background checks and red flag laws — two restrictions that the VCDL considers to be a serious problem for gun owners.

“The Democrat leadership’s threat to destroy a constitutional right is what is driving localities to stand up and protect that right.  VCDL will be reaching out to all localities, red and blue — our basic rights transcend political parties,” said VCDL President Philip Van Cleave.

Other potential legislation that poses an issue include a ban on certain semi-automatic firearms, limiting magazine size, one handgun a month and the elimination of Virginia’s firearms preemption laws, opening up with commonwealth with a “confusing and pointless patchwork of local gun controls,” said Van Cleave. 

Gov. Ralph Northam called a special session of the General Assembly in July after the mass shooting in Virginia Beach. That session ended in less than two hours, with plans to reconvene this month. The Republicans canceled the session.   

The Second Amendment Sanctuary is a national initiative, with some states having all of its counties passed a resolution, such as Alaska and Kansas. 

The sanctuary portion is a jab at sanctuary cities, or localities that have resolved not to help with federal enforcement of immigration laws. 

In the case of guns, the Second Amendment Sanctuary resolution would mean that the locality has decided not to enforce any new gun control laws. 

It appears that the VCDL is asking Isle of Wight residents to get the Board warmed up to the idea, as it states in its call to action email that it is currently drafting a resolution that can be used by Virginia localities. 

Other Virginia counties targeted by the VCDL include Franklin, Shenandoah, Bedford, Rockbridge, Halifax, Botetourt and Amherst. 

Smithfield District Supervisor Dick Grice said it was too early to know what’s going to happen in the General Assembly next year. 

“We can’t pass a county policy for everything that might happen,” said Grice. 

Besides, if the General Assembly “comes up with some off-the-wall gun law, it could end up in court for years,” he said. 

Rushmere District Supervisor Rudolph Jefferson, who was initially the only supervisor left off the email blast, said that he doesn’t believe it’s the state’s motive to take away people’s guns, but lawmakers do want to make it possible to do a thorough check of those who want to obtain a weapon. 

“If you have a mental condition, you don’t need a gun,” said Jefferson, adding that he fully supports proposed red flag and universal background check legislation. 

Jefferson was later added to the email list. 

While the Isle of Wight Board of Supervisors can pass a Second Amendment Sanctuary resolution, it is the Isle of Wight Sheriff’s Office that enforces the laws in the county. 

Isle of Wight County Sheriff James Clarke said he’s heard of the Second Amendment Sanctuary initiative. 

Clarke said his agency would have to enforce new gun laws passed by the General Assembly. He qualified that with the fact that he is personally pro-Constitution and pro-right to bear arms. 

“They (VCDL) are assuming changes are coming because of the election, but there’s no guarantee that anything will change. We operate in the spirit of the law, not just the letter of the law,” he said, meaning that his agency promotes educating residents on new laws, giving warnings when new laws are initially enacted and wants to look into holding gun safety classes. 

Most of all, Clarke wants to keep Isle of Wight County safe and calls on individuals to be vigilant. 

Let law enforcement know if someone begins acting strangely and may also own a gun.

“Don’t take it for granted. We need to pay attention to someone when their behavior changes,” he said.  {/mprestriction}