BERRYVILLE — Add this Clarke County town to the list of localities standing up for gun rights.
Tuesday night, Berryville Town Council voted 5-1 to adopt a resolution urging state and federal lawmakers "not to adopt or enact any law that would infringe on the right to keep and bear arms" as specified by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Government leaders in 130 of the state's counties, cities and towns have adopted resolutions in recent months opposing new gun restrictions. Their resolutions come as state lawmakers plan to consider proposed restrictions — including universal background checks, an assault weapons ban and "red flag" laws giving police the ability to seize weapons from people who they believe could harm themselves or others.
Berryville's resolution is essentially a duplicate of one recently adopted by the Clarke County Board of Supervisors. The resolution was vetted by a lawyer who works part-time for both the county and town.
The resolution does not declare the town a "Second Amendment sanctuary," as other resolutions have.
Diane Harrison was the lone council member to vote against the resolution. She voiced concern that it and a sample resolution submitted to the town by the Virginia Citizens Defense League, calling for Berryville to become a Second Amendment sanctuary, were being "tied together" in people's minds and causing confusion.
"You have been listened to and heard," Harrison told about 35 people who attended the meeting to show support for adopting a resolution.
She also said that when council members are sworn into office, they vow to uphold the law, whatever it is.
Harrison indicated she believes a council meeting is not the proper place to take a stance against state or federal laws. She said that after laws are enacted, people disagreeing with them can challenge the laws through the court system.
Councilwoman Donna Marie McDonald agreed with Harrison's reasoning.
"We're looking at the wrong place" for taking a position against proposed state laws, McDonald said.
Before the vote was taken, however, she explained that she would vote for the resolution because "once we start infringing upon one thing (a constitutional right), what's going to stop someone else from fringing upon another?"
Having lawmakers focus on issues related to mental health services would "do us better than (having) red flag laws," Mayor Patricia Dickinson said.
Councilwoman Erecka Gibson indicated that mental health problems contributed to her father's suicide 17 years ago.
With tears in her eyes, Gibson recalled how her father "took his own life in the worst way" by using "a gun that he should never have been able to purchase."
"I personally hope common sense laws are passed to prevent gun violence," she said.
There was no public hearing on the resolution, but 13 people in the audience voiced their viewpoints during the meeting's public comment portion.
Councilwoman Kara Rodriguez urged opponents of the proposed legislation to contact their state lawmakers.