Gun owners plead for sanctuary

Published 7:17 pm Tuesday, November 26, 2019

By Diana McFarland

The Smithfield Times

Gun rights advocates targeted Gov. Ralph Northam as the point man for an anticipated barrage of laws, supported by the new state Democratic majority, that will turn law-abiding firearm owners into felons seemingly overnight.  

That was the fear expressed Thursday as the Isle of Wight Board of Supervisors heard from residents wanting the county to become a Second Amendment Sanctuary. 

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The Board decided to take the request under advisement. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

The Second Amendment Sanctuary resolution is a nationwide initiative that encourages localities not to enforce new gun laws and support Second Amendment rights. In Virginia, the Virginia Civil Defense League is pushing counties to pass the resolution as a response to the Nov. 5 election when Democrats won control of the statehouse and will have a majority in the upcoming General Assembly. Northam, as well as Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, and Attorney General Mark Herring, are also Democrats. 

So far, several counties, including Carroll, Pittsylvania and Dinwiddie, have passed such a resolution.

The sample resolution, provided by the VCDL, cites some Supreme Court cases related to gun rights, and states that the Board of Supervisors would not expend public funds to restrict Second Amendment Rights or assist federal or state agencies from doing so. 

The sanctuary portion is a jab at sanctuary cities for immigrants and refugees, where some localities have decided against assisting federal immigration officials who are working to enforce the law. 

During the citizen’s comments portion of the Board meeting, Windsor resident Charles Haskett said he opposes Northam’s “assault on gun laws that would turn us into felons overnight.” 

If the Board would approve the Second Amendment Sanctuary resolution, it would provide a buffer against the “unconstitutional liberal agenda” and “liberal zealots,” said Haskett.

Residents touched on the several themes when it came to their guns. 

Trent Jackson of Carrsville said that self-defense was a “God-given right” and that “law abiding citizens do not want to become victims,” explaining that if left without his weapons, he would be vulnerable to criminals who don’t pay attention to laws anyway. 

Daniel Pasko of the Newport District said he doesn’t see any difference between the time criminals broke into his house and took his handguns and the government seizing his weapons. 

Mark Wooster of Rescue referenced Senate Bill 16 as a proposed law with problems, particularly as it attempts to classify certain weapons as semi-automatic.  

SB 16 expands the definition of an “assault firearm” and makes possessing, transporting, manufacturing or buying a weapon that falls under the various descriptions a Class 6 felony.

A Class 6 felony is the least serious felony in Virginia, but can result in prison time. However, by its very nature, felonies can cause myriad problems, from job discrimination to the loss of certain civil rights. 

Rob Slomienski of Smithfield said he moved to Virginia with his mother, who he cares for, so he could shoot guns on his own property. Slomienski, who is from New Jersey, said the laws there were too restrictive.

“That’s how passionate I am … It’s about disarming the populous, that’s their end game,” he said. 

No one spoke against the Second Amendment Sanctuary resolution.

Board members acknowledged they had received many emails on the topic and were glad to see they were not in a form letter style. 

“They were not cookie-cutter, but were heartfelt,” said Smithfield District Supervisor Dick Grice. 

Board Chairman William McCarty said he’s an avid supporter of the Second Amendment and has “about 30 reasons to show that.” 

However, McCarty advised the Board take the request under advisement and avoid a “knee jerk reaction.”  {/mprestriction}