WINCHESTER — The Frederick County Board of Supervisors plans to adopt a resolution Wednesday night to oppose any law that it sees as an infringement on the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
The resolution is included in the board’s Consent Agenda as part of its regular meeting. The meeting will take place at 7 p.m. at the County Administration Building at 107 N. Kent St.
“The majority of the board wanted to do something,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Charles DeHaven Jr., adding that “it’s a very basic statement for our support of the Constitution and the Second Amendment.”
The Frederick County Board of Supervisors’ proposed resolution says that certain legislation has or may be introduced in the Virginia General Assembly and the U.S. Congress that “could have the effect of infringing upon the rights of law abiding citizens to keep and bear arms which is guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 1, Section 13 of the Constitution of Virginia.” It further states that the board is concerned about the passage of such legislation.
After the Nov. 5 election, which put Democrats in control of the state legislature, 43 of Virginia’s 95 counties have adopted “Second Amendment Sanctuary resolutions” in response to Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam statement that his party’s leaders will push for gun control measures. The resolutions are not legally binding, according to The Associated Press.
Efforts to pass stricter gun legislation have been prompted by multiple mass shootings around the country, including a May 31 shooting at the Virginia Beach municipal building where 13 people were killed. Some of Northam’s proposed gun legislation include more extensive background checks, only allowing one handgun purchase within a 30-day period and banning assault weapons, high capacity magazines, bump stocks and silencers.
The county’s resolution says the board will defend the right to bear arms “by such legal means at its disposal” including “legal action, the power to appropriate public funds, the right to petition for redress of grievances and the power to direct employees of Frederick County to refrain from conduct which would infringe upon the Constitutional rights of our citizens.”
The resolution also says it is the board’s intent to not use public funds to restrict the Second Amendment or to aid any agency in the infringement of constitutionally protected rights.
The board’s desire to make a statement affirming the rights of gun owners comes in the wake of an Change.org petition requesting Frederick County be declared a “Second Amendment Sanctuary County.” As of Friday night, the petition had more than 5,000 signatures. Physical petitions are circulating at 21 local businesses. Frederick County Public Information Officer Karen Vacchio said the county’s board members received numerous calls about the matter.
Those responsible for the petitions hope for hundreds to attend Wednesday night’s board meeting to voice their thoughts.
Vacchio said consent agenda items usually pass without question.
According to Vacchio, the board was unable to relocate its meeting, as it had already advertised three public hearings would take place at the County Administration Building. In the event that hundreds of people show up to speak Wednesday night and exceed the board room’s capacity, Vacchio said the county will open up the building’s main lobby and employee lounge, where there are televisions.
“We are going to open as many spaces as we can in the building to the public,” Vacchio said. “We’ll accommodate as many people inside as we can.”
Vacchio will circulate a sign-up sheet for people wanting to speak at the meeting.
Winchester-Frederick County Democratic Committee Chairman William Fuller said he is unsure if many supporters of stricter gun legislation will show up to speak at Wednesday night’s meeting. Noting that the Board of Supervisors is entirely made up of Republicans, Fuller said efforts to speak against the resolution would likely “fall on deaf ears.” He also doesn’t think the board’s proposed resolution will have any impact.
“You can’t just decide to not obey the law,” Fuller said. “And so, I don’t think people take this action very seriously. They can pass all the resolutions they want, it isn’t going to affect the law at all. The sheriff is still going to arrest people if they break the law.”
Fuller said there is wide support for more extensive background checks to keep guns out of the hands of people “who have no business with firearms.”
Sheriff Lenny Millholland did not return The Star’s call for comment on Friday. County Attorney Roderick Williams declined to provide his opinion on if any legal issues could arise from the resolution.