WINCHESTER — Winchester has declined to join dozens of other Virginia localities regarding passage of a resolution supporting the right of citizens to own and use guns.

During a work session Tuesday night at John Kerr Elementary School, councilors voted 5-4 against creating a resolution stating Winchester’s support of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. The city is one of just nine localities in Virginia to reject adoption of such a resolution.

The vote followed party lines. The majority Democrats on City Council — David Smith, Judy McKiernan, Evan Clark, Kim Herbstritt and John Hill — opposed the resolution, while the Republicans — Les Veach, Bill Wiley, John Willingham and Corey Sullivan — favored the measure.

Two additional attempts to massage the language in the proposed resolution met the same fate.

The votes were cast as part of a so-called Second Amendment sanctuary movement that has led thousands of Virginians to petition local governments to formally support gun ownership.

A total of 121 state municipalities have approved resolutions regarding the Second Amendment since November, when gun rights advocates started asking local governments to designate their town, city or county as a sanctuary from proposed firearm regulations being considered by the Democrat-controlled General Assembly. Proposed measures currently being considered by the legislature include universal background checks for gun purchases, a ban on assault weapons and so-called “red flag laws” that would enable authorities to temporarily take guns away from people they believe could endanger themselves or others.

It remains to be seen if the local resolutions will carry any weight.

"It is my opinion that these resolutions have no legal effect," Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring, a Democrat, wrote on Dec. 20. "It is my further opinion that localities and local constitutional officers cannot nullify state laws and must comply with gun violence prevention measures that the General Assembly may enact."

The local resolutions adopted to date have varied from hardline stances opposing any effort to strengthen gun laws, to general statements of compliance with all laws that are not in direct defiance of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.

On Tuesday, Willingham introduced a resolution for Winchester that was similar to one passed on Jan. 6 by the city of Virginia Beach, which designated itself a "constitutional city" that supports "the rights of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms." The Virginia Beach City Council also urged the General Assembly and Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam "to take no action which would violate the freedoms guaranteed by either the Virginia Bill of Rights or the federal Bills or Rights."

Winchester’s City Council members were united in saying they would uphold their oath of office to defend the state and federal constitutions, but were uncomfortable passing a resolution encouraging law enforcement officers to ignore laws not supported by the city.

Councilors suggested that supporters of gun rights contact their state legislators to share their concerns, reminding the approximately 50 people in attendance that City Council cannot create policies that defy constitutional laws.

Tuesday night marked the third time that Second Amendment supporters addressed Winchester's City Council about adopting a possible resolution. Turnout was so strong at the prior two meetings in November and December that city officials decided to move Tuesday's session from Rouss City Hall to the larger auditorium at John Kerr Elementary School.

The Frederick County and Clarke County governing bodies recently adopted resolutions supporting gun rights. On Tuesday night, Berryville Town Council approved one as well.

For more, see Thursday’s edition of The Winchester Star.

— Contact Brian Brehm at

(27) comments


Go Paul revere. No sanctuary cities for illegal immigrants are ok, but sanctuary cities for legal firearm owners is not. You talk about bias??


Can you tell us where a sanctuary city is legal in Virginia?


While I am a resident of Frederick County and not Winchester. I think of Winchester as home. I didn't see our Governor and the new crop of anti-gun social democrats in the legislature as representative of Winchester. I am disappointed that I was wrong.


Demokrat hacks are gonna be demokrat hacks.


I'm encouraging all gun rights advocates from Winchester, Frederick County and all other nearby areas to conduct business in some other location other than Winchester. The only thing that will get these Democrat council members attention is when money is moved out of the city. This is also the way to get them voted out in the next election.


Sanity prevails.


Apparently not in Winchester...


It was a joke. Ward 4 Judy said she was for it then voted against it.The mayor, who is also council president, had a tough time running the meeting constantly asking for advice from the city mgr. vote em all out!


I'm sorry to hear that the Winchester Council could not step up to the plate however I'm happy to say the Berryville Council did the exact opposite and passed 2A Resolution last night. Great Job Berryville.


You don't get it, this is just a start, the Democrats are not going to stop here they will take your guns in the future. Also these laws will not do anything to protect citizens, it's just going to hurt the law abiding citizen we won't be able to protect our self. Remember how crazy Ralph Northam is, wants to kill kids after birth???? Ralph Northam is in a racist picture???? All you have to do is listen to Ralph not very smart, he is like Mayor David Smith of Winchester. Mayor Smith is so uneducated he cannot conduct a council meeting, has to ask for help all the time. Embarrassing to be a Citizen of Winchester Va. The Mayor and all Council members need to walk down the street and watch Frederick County Board of Supervisors meetings. Winchester could learn a lot, Frederick County knows how a meeting should be run.


This whole gun sanctuary zone is silly, shameful and a waste of time. There is nothing unconstitutional about: “universal background checks for gun purchases, a ban on assault weapons and so-called “red flag laws” that would enable authorities to temporarily take guns away from people they believe could endanger themselves or others.“ May these measures pass and thusly save lives. Gun fanatics are.... fanatics. Crying wolf, but ..... there is not wolf.


Agree - 100%. Thank you.


your ignorance on the proposed gun laws is showing....


Well said. Thank you.


The Governor and the anti-gun democrats are pushing this farther than I think the electorate wants. I see the Sanctuary movement as validation of this. While I don't believe a word of your post. I also know the Democrats won a majority in both houses. Combine that with a Democrat Governor and they can basically do what they want. They appear to have chosen gun control as their # one priority and are ramming it down everyone's throat. This is wrong. Do I beleive everyone wants sensible gun laws, yes, Do I believe a majority of Virginians want the Governor's gun law package. No. It's too much too soon.

So, as I understand it, because I disagree with you, I'm a fanatic? Are you not willing to even consider that other people have differing opinions without finding an insulting way of dismissing them?


If you look up the word. Fanatic, you will see that it does not mean: differing in opinion.

Yet, by adding that comment, you imply that anyone who disagrees with the laws you mention is a fanatic. True or not?

So, as I understand it, because I disagree with you, I'm a fanatic? Are you not willing to even consider that other people have differing opinions without finding an insulting way of dismissing them?


All I see is taking away gun rights from legal gun owners. Lets see a plan to take guns from criminals and illeagal gun owners first. But then again Demonrats can't understand the word illegal.


Typical Liberals.


Yes, BRAVO for typical liberals.


Yes...examples to us all of how NOT to be.


You should do a little research on terms that you bat around. You are trying for an insult but falling short. Most liberals are educated and thoughtful and understand that the Constitution has 27 Amendments and the mechanics to change, add, or delete. 26 of the 27 Amendments have to do with a functioning Democracy. The 2nd Amendment has nothing to do with how our Democracy works - it is about guns. It is only about guns. When the guns folks use the words: freedom, rights, etc - they are not talking about freedom or rights - they are talking about guns. Guns only.

I disagree with your statement that 2A has nothing to do with our democracy. I ask you this, how did we get our democracy in the first place? Was it by siting down with the British and talking it over? No, it was at the business end of guns. The 2A clearly states how it applies to a functioning democracy by ensuring that the people have the ability to maintain it.


That was also 1783, with muskets, against a foreign adversary. If all the guns disappeared tomorrow, we would still have a democracy. And it would continue to exist without guns. Not sure if you are aware of this, but things have changed in the 200 or so years. We're not being threatened by the British monarchy, we now have a very effective military presence to protect us from foreign powers (which did not exist when the 2A was drafted). Hand gun for personal protection, shotgun for home, and a rifle to hunt. Outside of that (AR-10, bump stock, 30 round mag, multiple guns purchases a moth) you are just making up for other short comings. The 2A and common sense gun laws can, and will, coexist. Now your definition of "common sense" may vary with others, hence why we look to the majority for opinion. And in VA, the majority have spoken. Deal with it or move. It's as simple as that.

@tjtuck - The site won't let me reply directly to your comment, so I'll reply to my own. First, I appreciate you recognizing that one person's "common sense" doesn't alway jive with another's. Second, let me say what we agree on. It's not 1783, we're not dealing with muskets, we do have an effective military to protect us from foreign powers, and the 2A and gun regulations can coexist. Third, what we disagree on, apart from the obvious. The British monarchy was not a foreign power at the time, they were the ruling government over the colonies. The citizens took up arms to kick them out. Not sure if you're aware, but that's why it was called a revolution. See, I can make thinly veiled insults too. The authors of the Constitution and Bill of Rights picked every word and punctuation mark very carefully. If they had meant the right of the militia to keep and bear muskets, they would've said that. They were also intelligent enough to know that muskets weren't going to be the only way people came up with to kill each other. Once I have exhausted all avenues, among which is petitioning my government, I will decide whether or not to stay. Until then, I think I'll keep exercising my 1st amendment to petition my representatives. Last, in the 200 years of our country, our government, on both sides of the aisle, doesn't exactly have a stellar record in terms of respecting human rights. Ask the 120K citizens who were locked up by a Democratic president during WW2 because they were of Japanese origin. Ask the women who the Republicans would tell what they can and can't do with their own bodies. Yeah, betcha didn't see that one coming. So, to wrap up, if you would like to have an open dialog to exchange ideas and viewpoints, my email address is right there. Unless, of course, you aren't willing to admit the shortcomings of your position. See, I did it again!

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