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2A advocates heard at B.O.S. meeting

By WILLIAM PAINE

william.paine@southwesttimes.com

As has happened in several localities over the past two weeks, hundreds of individuals came to Monday night’s Board of Supervisor meeting at the County Administration Building to show their support for making Pulaski County a Second Amendment Sanctuary.

The board room was filled to capacity, as was the hallway leading to the board room. Outside several hundred more gathered to show support, even as they knew they would likely never gain entrance to witness the proceedings. They were never the less undeterred and like Pulaski natives Douglas Blair and Stanley Cole, stood without complaint in the 40 degree temperatures.

“We’re here to make sure that we’re defending our constitutional rights to own firearms,” said Blair. “And not leave us completely defenseless,” added Cole.

Inside, those in attendance were just as adamant, with one gray haired man saying that he’d lived in the county for all his life and never before felt the need to attend a meeting of the county supervisors.

Valerie Cox, who lives near Claytor Lake, came early to secure a seat inside the board room.

“I am appalled that in this day and age in the state of Virginia, the birthplace of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, that we find ourselves in a position where we need to defend the Constitution,” said Cox. “Don’t you think that’s a little ironic?”

The meeting started with Fairlawn resident Gary Hughes, as he was the first person to approach the County Administrator about speaking to this issue. Hughes stated that passing a sanctuary resolution would show the governor and the newly elected Democrat majority that counties stand together, but insisted that nullification must be a major factor in its implementation.

“Nullification in government means that the local government takes all lawful and permissive action to obstruct and frustrate the enforcement of a law that the local government has determined is overreaching and unconstitutional,” said Hughes.

From there, Hughes explained exactly what he believed should be included in Pulaski County’s Second Amendment Sanctuary resolution. He listed them as follows:

  1. The Commonwealth Attorney’s pledge to decline to prosecute and promises to dismiss any charges arising from any gun legislation that is enacted from Jan. 1, 2020, forward.
  2. The Sheriff’s Pledge to decline to investigate allegation of violations of any gun legislation that is enacted from Jan. 1, 2020, forward.
  3. The Sheriff Pledges to decline to imprison anyone charged solely with violations of any gun legislation that is enacted from Jan. 1, 2020, forward.
  4. The Board of Supervisors and the Sheriff pledge to refuse to use any county resources to enforce any gun legislation that is enacted from Jan. 1, 2020, forward, including the use of the county 911 system, vehicles, jails or personnel.

Hughes went on to say that he was a 67-year-old law abiding citizen and that he would never comply with a law that infringes on his Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Hughes’ final words earned him an enthusiastic standing ovation from all spectators in the board room.

Much of Hughes’ proposal depends on the cooperation of the Pulaski County Sheriff and the Commonwealth Attorney. The morning after the supervisors meeting, Sheriff Mike Worrell issued a statement on Facebook stating that, “I fully and without reservation 100% support a resolution by the Pulaski County Board of Supervisors to make Pulaski County a Second Amendment Sanctuary. As long as I am Sheriff of Pulaski County, neither myself, nor any of my deputies, will enforce any law that in unconstitutional.”

In all, 18 individuals directly addressed the board and gave their take on new gun control laws that are expected to come down from Richmond in 2020.

“It doesn’t matter what shape the gun is,” said Garnett Simmers. “In an evil person’s hands, it becomes a tool for evil. In a good person’s hands, it does exactly what it’s supposed to do. I’ve hunted with my father from about the time when I was eight years old. He taught me gun control and I taught it to my sons. I can hit what I’m shooting at. That’s gun control. I don’t want politicians stealing my rights.”

This statement precipitated another standing ovation.

Several women addressed the board as well, among them, Genie Hamblin Zunic who said that guns were for a citizens’ protection against a tyrannical government. This sentiment was repeated by several speakers.

One woman talked about how thugs beat up her unarmed grandmother back in her former home in New Jersey.

“I brought my family here because it seemed like Little House on the Prairie,” said the New Jersey native. “People say good morning here and I was like, ‘What do they want from me’? It took me years to adjust to someone saying hi. I’m definitely for 2A. I deserve to use a gun. I’m not a criminal. I’ve had dozens of fist fights. I had one right here in Pulaski, but didn’t bring a gun to it.”

Kathy Bowman went on to express her opposition to proposed Red Flag laws which are used to disarm “dangerous” people. Bowman expressed her belief that these laws could be abused, “by an ex-husband or ex-wife who is going to call the police and tell them some bogus story just so they’ll take guns away from that person and I’ve been in that situation with my ex’s and my husbands and I know it can happen”

Out of the 18 speakers, two spoke in favor of more gun control.

Ricardo Jenson doesn’t live in Pulaski County but does work here as a public defender.

“I’m actually here on behalf of a number of people, who felt like this was going to be an intimidating situation,” said Jenson. “I grew up in Idaho. We’d go pheasant hunting every fall. One thing we didn’t do is use an AR to do that. These law aren’t designed to take away all firearms. They’re designed to make sure we’re all protected from those that do the most harm.”

Jenson went on to say that no one in Richmond wants to take away a hunter’s ability to go out and gather food for their family. At this point, the crowd became restless with one fellow stating that they’d heard enough and a woman who began coughing loudly. As Jenson made his departure, loud boos rang out from the foyer, which earned a reprimand from Chairman of the board Andy McCready.

Alan Brainard also came to speak in favor of gun control laws.

“It’s really a shame that you talk about doing what’s best for Pulaski when you guys punted on the opportunity to do the best thing for Pulaski and put it out to the voters because you didn’t have the courage to stand up for education,” said Brainard. “Now everybody seems to be standing up for guns.”

Brainard went on to say that Americans already accept limitations on free speech and guns stating that it’s illegal to yell “fire” in a crowded theater. He also pointed out that automatic weapons are illegal and this is widely accepted. He went on to defend red flag laws saying that a Second Amendment Sanctuary resolution would make it impossible to disarm a person who want to do harm to themselves. He finished by saying that, “the big fear is that there is going to be a blanket law where all guns will be gone and that will never happen in America.”

Before leaving the podium, chairman of the board Andy McCready adamantly responded to Brainard’s opening remark

“You said we punted on middle school,” said McCready. “The school board came and said ‘Put it on the ballot.’ All five of us voted yes. If we did what the school board wanted to do, it would have cost 10 million more dollars! So don’t tell me what happened, I was here!”

Except for these two men, all others addressing the board were firmly in favor of passing a Second Amendment Sanctuary resolution.

Just as the last individual addressed the board, a man stepped into the board room from the outside holding a sheet of paper. He explained that he had gathered 418 signatures in support of the Second Amendment Sanctuary resolution from the individuals standing outside of the Administration Building.

Even so, some of those who had been standing outside had not seen the petition. Based on this, it’s likely that approximately 700 people came to Monday’s meeting.

After the meeting, several supervisors expressed support for a Second Amendment Sanctuary Resolution. Supervisor Joe Guthrie stated that, though many other counties had already passed a resolution, he believed Pulaski County was going about it in a proper way by getting input from the citizens before acting.

“It’s not the guns that kill, it’s the people behind the guns,” said Supervisor Charlie Bopp.

“I support it as long as it’s done right,” said Supervisor Dean Pratt.

Andy McCready said it was a matter of supporting the Constitution and as far as Pulaski County is concerned, this issue was nonpartisan.

The Pulaski Town Council will vote on this issue this coming Tuesday.

“It’s either up or down, we’re not going to drag it out,’” said councilman Jamie Radcliffe. “If you stand by the Second Amendment then come on down. I’m voting absolutely yes. As a veteran and 30 year police officer, I’ll stand by the Second Amendment and I’ll fight to the end for it.

Radcliffe said he would be “very surprised” if the resolution didn’t pass.

“We’re just telling the governor, ‘Hey Southwest Virginia has a voice,’” Radcliffe continued. “There’s more than two counties in the Commonwealth of Virginia. We need a voice and this voice is speaking here tonight and hopefully Tuesday night, too.”

The Board of Supervisors will vote on this issue at the upcoming Monday, Dec. 16, meeting. At press time, the following 15 Virginia counties have now passed a Second Amendment Sanctuary resolution: Appomattox, Campbell, Carroll, Charlotte, Dickenson, Dinwiddie, Giles, King William, Lee, Nottoway, Patrick, Pittsylvania, Powhatan, Southampton and Sussex.

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