Surry shies away from sanctuary designation

Published 3:41 am Wednesday, December 11, 2019

By Frederic Lee 

Staff writer

SURRY — The Surry County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution upholding the Second Amendment Thursday, but stopped short of declaring the county a “Second Amendment Sanctuary,” resulting in a backlash from the public. 

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Hundreds of Second Amendment supporters flooded the Surry County government center Thursday, a replay of county meetings across Virginia, where the Second Amendment Sanctuary movement has taken hold after Democrats won control of the statehouse beginning in January.

After the Board passed a resolution to uphold the Second Amendment and urge Gov. Ralph Northam and the General Assembly to do the same, residents in the packed courtroom applauded and started to file out. 

Tagged with orange “guns save lives” stickers, the crowd returned to the Board room when word spread that the Board’s resolution didn’t include language that deemed the county a “Second Amendment Sanctuary.”  {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

Oddly, the Virginia Citizens Defense League counts Surry as one of 46 counties, towns and cities to pass a Second Amendment Sanctuary resolution. 

During the public comment period that followed the vote, more than 20 residents spoke out.  Several individuals pressured the Board to update their resolution with language naming a Second Amendment sanctuary and vote on it again that same night. 

Surry residents James and Kristina Munsell both spoke during the public comments period of the meeting and said that their minor daughter carried a gun with her when she was outside of the house in order to protect herself from a registered sex offender that had moved into the neighborhood and started waving at her. 

“She was essentially a prisoner in her own house if she didn’t have (a firearm),” said James, adding that if the Board of Supervisors wasn’t going to stick up for what he supports, then in the future he will vote for Board of Supervisors candidates that do.

Surry County resident J.C. Judkins was gathering signatures outside of the courthouse Thursday night for a petition to uphold gun rights in the locality. He said that he was going to take the petition — which has so far gathered more than 400 signatures — to Richmond ahead of the General Assembly’s 2020 session.

In an interview Thursday, Judkins said that there are farmers in Surry County that depend on guns to protect their crops from deer and their livestock from predators. Without their guns, those people wouldn’t have any other means to survive, he said. 

Board of Supervisors Chairman Michael Drewry said in an interview Friday that there was still a lot of mystery and divergent opinions about the phrase “Second Amendment Sanctuary” and what its consequences might be.  

The Board of Supervisors’ resolution to uphold the Second Amendment referenced gun control legislation that had been proposed by Gov. Ralph Northam and the General Assembly that will likely be introduced in their 2020 session. 

A special session of the  General Assembly took place on July 9 to address gun violence regulations in Virginia in the wake of the May 31 shooting in a Virginia Beach municipal building that left 12 people dead.

For that meeting, Northam proposed eight pieces of gun legislation, such as requiring background checks on all firearm sales and transactions and bans on assault weapons and silencers. 

That meeting — which took place when both houses of the General Assembly had Republican majorities  — ended abruptly without the passage of a single bill, according to multiple news reports. 

In a November interview on CNN, Northam said that he was confident that those eight bills would become law in the 2020 session now that the both houses of the General Assembly have democratic majorities. 

Drewry said they weren’t sure if the topic would come up at the Board’s next meeting. {/mprestriction}