Surry divided on 2nd Amendment

Published 7:46 pm Tuesday, February 4, 2020

By Frederic Lee

Staff writer

SURRY — On gun rights legislation, Surry County residents have emerged divided in terms of whether the Board of Supervisors has gone far enough to protect Second Amendment rights in the locality. 

Members of the public came forth at the Board’s Jan. 23 meeting, some residents imploring the Supervisors to deem the locality a “Second Amendment sanctuary county,” while other residents expressed that the Board’s actions to protect gun rights at its Dec. 5 meeting was satisfactory.

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On Dec. 5, the Board of Supervisors unanimously passed an ordinance to protect the Second Amendment in the county, but stopped short of defining Surry County a “sanctuary” from the effects of new gun legislation recently proposed by Gov. Ralph Northam. 

The courtroom where the Board of Supervisors meetings take place reached capacity Jan. 23, as it had at the Board of Supervisors’ Dec. 5 meeting. 

One opponent and one proponent of the Board of Supervisors’ past actions on gun rights legislation waved competing petitions during the public comments section of the meeting. 

That being said, a majority of speakers pushed for more second amendment protections in Surry County. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

One petition bore 105 signatures from Surry County residents that were satisfied with the Board’s previous action, while the other bore over 400 signatures and counting that 

At the Board of Supervisors’ Dec. 5 meeting, hundreds of Surry County residents turned out and pleaded to the elected officials to vote to deem Surry County a Second Amendment sanctuary. 

Tracey Howell with the Surry County Democratic Committee said during public comments that the Board of Supervisors had done enough to protect the Second Amendment at the Dec. 5 meeting, and held up a petition that included 105 signatures of residents that agreed. 

Following the meeting, other residents approached her to sign the petition, and she handed out “No Changes Necessary” pins to supporters of the petition as well. 

Howell said in an interview after the meeting that she’d tried to attend the Dec. 5 meeting, but was unable to get into the courtroom because of the massive crowd. She added that she had turned out to the Jan. 23 meeting to show another side of the ensuing gun rights debate going on in the county, and that there were a number of petitions circulating in the county similar to hers.  

Surry County Democratic Committee Chairman John Elliott also spoke out in support of the Board of Supervisors prior actions on protecting gun rights locally. 

On the other hand, Surry County resident J.C. Judkins, who’d previously spoken out in support of a sanctuary designation at the Dec. 5 meeting, returned and held up a competing petition that bore over 400 signatures, he said. 

A line of residents was seen signing the petition at the Dec. 5 meeting outside the Surry County Government Center. 

After democrats gained majorities in both the General Assembly’s House of Delegates and the Senate this past November, Second Amendment supporters have rallied for their right to bear arms to go without further regulation, an aim that resulted in  a rally at the Virginia State Capitol on Jan. 20 — “Lobby Day” — which turned out thousands of gun rights supporters. 

Board of Supervisors Chairman Robert Elliott, who was elected to the Board back in November and became chairman in January, said that following the meeting, the Board will discuss whether or not to move forward with any further action in terms designating the county a second amendment sanctuary, and declined to comment on his personal opinion as chairman. {/mprestriction}