Those familiar with the online petition say more than 100 people plan to attend the board’s Dec. 11 meeting to present the petition and implore county officials to protect the rights of gun owners.
Since the Nov. 5 election that put Democrats in control of the state legislature, approximately 22 of Virginia’s 95 counties have adopted Second Amendment Sanctuary resolutions in response to Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam saying his party’s leaders will push for gun control measures. The resolutions are not legally binding, according to The Associated Press.
The Frederick County petition, created by county resident Corey O’Donnell, urges the board to issue a public statement supporting the U.S. Constitution. It also asks the board not to endorse any expenditures or actions that would infringe on the Constitution’s Second Amendment, which protects the right to keep and bear arms.
“It will send a message to the governor that we are not happy,” said Middletown Firearms owner Travis Dodson, who supports the petition.
Similar measures have been approved in Appomattox, Campbell, Charlotte, Carroll and Pittsylvania counties, among others.
In addition to the online petition, physical petitions are currently circulating at 21 local businesses, such as Middletown Firearms and Stonewall Arms. They have about 500 signatures, according to O’Donnell.
Efforts to increase gun control have amplified in the wake of multiple mass shootings around the country, including a May 31 shooting at the Virginia Beach municipal building that killed 13 people and injured four others.
Many gun owners believe increased regulations will infringe on their Second Amendment rights, and they are urging their localities to take a stand against additional gun control measures.
Northam’s legislative agenda, announced in July, includes:
Requiring background checks on all firearms sales and transactions. The bill mandates that any person selling, renting, trading, or transferring a firearm must first obtain the results of a background check before completing the transaction.
Banning dangerous weapons. This would include bans on assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, bump stocks and silencers.
Reinstating Virginia’s law allowing one handgun purchase within a 30-day period.
Requiring that lost and stolen firearms be reported to law enforcement within 24 hours.
Creating an Extreme Risk Protective Order, allowing law enforcement and the courts to temporarily separate a person from firearms if the person exhibits dangerous behavior that presents an immediate threat to self or others.
Prohibiting all individuals subject to final protective orders from possessing firearms. The bill expands Virginia law, which now prohibits individuals subject to final protective orders of family abuse from possessing firearms.
Enhancing the punishment for allowing access to a loaded, unsecured firearm by a child from a Class 3 Misdemeanor to a Class 6 felony. The bill also raises the age of the child from 14 to 18.
Enabling localities to enact any firearms ordinances that are stricter than state law. This includes regulating firearms in municipal buildings, libraries and at permitted events.
“We are big supporters [of making Frederick County a Second Amendment Sanctuary] because this is going to affect our business and how we’ve been doing things for a long time,” Dodson said. “I obviously own a lot of theses guns, and they are going to make me a felon because of it. And it’s going to hurt my business. It’s also going to hurt other businesses that are in the area.”
Dodson is not in favor of universal background checks or any new gun restrictions. He maintains the government already has too much overreach.
“They’ve overreached enough already,” Dodson said. “You give them a little, they’ll take it all.”
Frederick County Board of Supervisors Chairman Charles DeHaven Jr. said the board has received a request from Gainesboro resident and Planning Commission member Alan Morrison to adopt a resolution defending Second Amendment rights.
“It has not been discussed by the board in any way, shape or form yet,” DeHaven said. “I’m sure it will be.”
DeHaven said the board will listen to residents at the Dec. 11 meeting, but if any action is taken on the submitted resolution, it would likely occur at a later meeting.
He added that he doesn’t think Morrison’s resolution, in its current draft, is in compliance with state law, as it seems to ask supervisors to defy state law if additional gun regulations are enacted. He declined to provide The Star a copy of the resolution, believing it would be premature to do so.
“We all swear to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the United States and the Commonwealth of Virginia,” DeHaven said. “The law is the law. It is my personal opinion that there is no way in the world [the proposed resolution] could ever stand up to a challenge, even if it were enacted. And I just think it’s a feel-good, knee-jerk reaction.”
However, DeHaven does believe the proposed resolution reflects the sentiments of most county residents. The county has more than 86,000 residents.
Last week, three people encouraged Winchester City Council to protect gun ownership rights, and about 1,000 people showed up to a Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors meeting in support of similar measures. Dodson said he hopes as many or more people attend the Dec. 11 Frederick County Board of Supervisors meeting.