By: Terry Harris | Email: Click Here
Posted: November 27, 2019 | 3:00 p.m.
SUSSEX – After a last minute addition to the agenda, Chairwoman Susan Seward responded to an issue that was obviously on the minds of many citizens who turned out for the Sussex County Board of Supervisors meeting Thursday night – passage of a resolution to affirm the county’s position as a supporter of the second amendment.
The resolution was in response to concerns about what the future holds with lawmakers set to return to Richmond for the 2020 General Assembly session, where firearms are expected to be one of a host of topics discussed in both Democratic-controlled chambers.
Chairman Seward described the importance of the proposed resolution saying, “In rural Virginia there has been a movement across a number of counties within the past couple of weeks due to a change over the state legislature which I think has a lot of people concerned. There have been a variety of resolutions – Campbell County, Appomattox County and Dinwiddie among them, and the list is growing rapidly – that really want to make clear in a resolution by the Board of Supervisors that the Second Amendment and all that it entails is something that we take seriously.”
When Vice Chairman Keith Blowe questioned the speed in presenting and passing the resolution, local farmer and gun-owner Keith Dunn, whom Seward had mentioned as one well-versed in gun-related questions, offered an impassioned response.
“I think it needs to be done now. It will show the support of the citizens of Sussex County – show solidarity between the rural counties of the state of Virginia – to the delegates in Richmond, that we feel our rural heritage is important. We all grew up hunting and fishing here and not only do I enjoy hunting and fishing, I enjoy sports shooting as well. My wife and I are both certified range safety officers, we’re both pistol, shotgun, and rifle license instructors. We hold classes and arrange concealed weapon permit classes. And I feel it’s important to the citizens of Sussex County to let the state of Virginia know that we cherish our heritage and we live for that. And those of us here that that’s all we enjoy, why not go ahead and express support to these people? There are people here that are worried that what’s going to happen in the House of Representatives and the government this year is going to turn everyone up. Everyone of us here that enjoys hunting and fishing can be turned into a felon by the stroke of the governors. Why not show that support for all these people here that enjoy hunting and fishing and outdoors. Why not go ahead and do it? That’s what I ask the board now.”
Seward added, “Mr. Vice, if I can add to that, I think that counties in this area are doing it in advance of the General Assembly session to send the message that, ‘Hey! Y’all are coming to Richmond from Northern Virginia down this way. Don’t forget about us and what we value in the rural areas.’ That’s why counties are doing this in advance of the General Assembly.”
The resolution was passed unanimously, which led to thunderous applause and the comment from Seward to those in attendance, “We heard you and we acted fast, so thank you for reaching out.”
Seward explained the resolution, is patterned on the one passed in Dinwiddie County the previous night, supervisors confirmed their belief that some legislation introduced during both the most recent General Assembly session this year and the current session of Congress “could have the effect of infringing on the rights of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms.”
Further, the approved resolution stands to demonstrate the board’s, “deep commitment to the rights of all citizens of Sussex County to keep and bear arms,” and their formal “,opposition to any law that would unconstitutionally restrict the rights under the Second Amendment” of local residents and gun owners.
The resolution went on to say the county intends to, “Stand as a Sanctuary County for Second Amendment rights and to oppose,” within the limits of the U.S Constitution and state law, “any efforts to unconstitutionally restrict such rights, and to use such legal means at its disposal to protect the constitutional rights of the citizens to keep and bear arms, including through legal action, the power of appropriation of public funds, and the right to petition for redress of grievances.”
Through their action, supervisors demonstrated they do not want Sussex County public funds used “to unconstitutionally restrict Second Amendment rights or to aid in the unconstitutional restriction of the rights under the Second Amendment,” for county residents to bear arms.
For several years the conversation surrounding gun reform has been ongoing in the Commonwealth, but it was propelled into the foreground following the deadly workplace shooting at Virginia Beach’s municipal building in May that left 12 people dead, leading to a special session of the General Assembly being called in July by Governor Ralph Northam. That session lasted less than two hours before being adjourned without any bills being considered.
Months later, it would become a key part of the most recent election, which saw Democrats gain control of both chambers of the General Assembly – the State Senate and House of Delegates – for the first time in over two decades. And, in the hours after this month’s election, gun reform was one of the topics Democratic Party of Virginia Chairwoman Susan Swecker said was on their agenda going forward.
“Virginia voters made it clear that the time is now for common-sense gun violence prevention, a raise in the minimum wage, the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment and all the progressive reforms we campaigned so hard on this year,” she said in a statement earlier this month.
During the public comments section of the Sussex BOS meeting following the vote several citizens came forward to express their thanks for the board’s action. No one expressed opposition or displeasure concerning passage of the resolution
Typical comments included one from Raymond Covington, speaking as President of the Airfield Shooting Club who said, that he wanted to thank the BOS for approving the resolution.
Chad Ellis spoke for the Virginia Hound Heritage group – which he said brought in 230 dear, amounting to 44,000 plates of food through Hunters for the Hungry last year, said, “I want to thank you guys for your progress on the Second Amendment support.”
Keith Dunn, added to his comments prior to the vote, “I would like to thank the board for their quick work on the Second Amendment resolution – for what they did getting it together. We made several phone calls today and we appreciate your action.”
Otto Wachsman said, “I fully applaud the board tonight for the quick action on passing the second amendment sanctuary. I think it’s extremely important for all counties to do that – to send a message that is drastically needed in Richmond right now – that in rural areas – in all counties – we need to let them know that we are still here and that these are vital rights that we need to retain.”
Addressing the speed with which the board acted and the necessity for the resolution afterward, Chairman Seward that she and other board members had had many calls about the resolution, then added, “It’s a growing trend. All the counties in Southside Virginia are doing this. I heard that Dinwiddie County had passed a resolution last night. When I read their resolution I thought it was a pretty balanced and thorough resolution. I called the Dinwiddie County’s administrator, he emailed it to me this morning. I got it to administration, had them get it out to the board members for consideration. I just wanted to get ahead of the curve. The General Assembly convenes January 8, and I thought was important that Sussex have this resolution on the books along with all the other counties around us.”
Copyright 2019 by Womack Publishing
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