Pulaski Town Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to instruct Town Manager Shawn Utt to prepare a resolution that makes the town a Second Amendment Sanctuary.
Council is expected to officially pass the resolution in two weeks at its Dec. 17 work session, beginning at 5 p.m.
The sanctuary issue brought town residents out in force for the meeting Tuesday, filling council chambers. However, only three citizens spoke during discussion on the issue – two in favor of passage of a sanctuary resolution and one opposed.
Joe Rees told council that while he isn’t a hunter, he is a “staunch supporter of the Second Amendment and all of our freedoms.”
Rees said not only the U.S. Constitution, but the Virginia Constitution “spells out very clearly that we have a right” to bear arms.
Rees pointed out that all Virginians, as individuals, have that right and not just as members of a militia.
He noted, however, that “we’re all in the militia too. Most people don’t know that. I didn’t know that till I started researching all this. We are all in the militia if you live in Virginia, you are in the militia until you’re 75 years old and if you’re needed.”
Rees said the nation’s founding fathers intended for us all to take care of ourselves and our families.
“When my ancestors first came here in 1627, by law, they had to have one pound of powder and four pounds of lead. They had to have a rifle out in the field with them. They had to be ready to be called up if needed and they had to go. They were expected to know how to use their firearm, they were expected to have a firearm that was comparable to those they might be going up against. If China were to invade us today with AK-47’s we shouldn’t have muskets, we should have something comparable to what they have,” he said.
Rees told council “our liberties are being infringed upon with the 15 or so new Senate laws that we see coming through. That’s the reason so many people are here now, we’re being infringed upon. That’s the issue. And it’s very clear that they (gun opponents) don’t have the authority to do so. You can read the words of our forefathers – either by natural law or by God’s law – you can pick whichever one you want. They said that we all have a right to keep and bear arms.”
Rees continued that gun owners have shirked their responsibilities and not been as involved as they should have been in their government.
“I’m sorry I haven’t been. I’m just as guilty if not more so than anybody. And we all have an obligation to be involved,” he said.
Jamie Steele addressed council and followed up on Rees’ comments.
Steele said that, in the early 90’s, “if it hadn’t been for a weapon, I don’t know what would have happened to me,” recalling a beating he said he took in the old Wade’s parking lot in Pulaski.
“But what I’m getting to is, we wouldn’t be here if enough Virginia gun owners would vote. Just simply vote. Research your local and state leaders. Research and see what they’re voting for. Let that be your guide and vote on what you feel like is best for you and your communities. And I’m not talking about federal
elections, I’m talking about your state and local elections. I’m talking about you guys (council). I’m talking about our state leaders. You’re going to have to start looking at these people. I honestly believe there’s enough gun owners in the state of Virginia to overrule all that junk going on in the northern part of Virginia.
“I went down here in November and voted – walked right in there with no line, no nothing. If I go down here and vote for president, I have to stand in line. The president isn’t coming after my gun, the governor is coming after my gun. So, gun owners in Virginia have got to vote,” he said.
Ron Hall spoke next noting that gun-related mass murders have happened with “sickening frequency in this country.”
“Some states are trying desperately to better protect their school children, shoppers and churchgoers from the madness. Some counties are responding to those efforts by adopting what they call the Second Amendment sanctuary resolutions,” he noted.
Hall said, “Inevitably, one of those massacres is going to happen in one of those counties in a state that has enacted new gun laws. Many innocent people will die and many more will be wounded. Tears and thoughts and prayers will follow like they always do.”
Hall predicted such a shooting will happen in a sanctuary county and things will be different.
“Someone will step forward and say that they could have alerted authorities about that illegal gun, or that
threatening unstable gun owner, but were discouraged from doing so because their county had resolved not to enforce the law. Or someone will say that they did report to the authorities but were rebuffed or ignored because of the sanctuary resolution.”
Hall said tort lawyers will “come swarming
and bereaved families will sign up” to file suit.
Those suits, he said, “will be argued in civil court that the county’s resolution not to enforce the law makes them negligent, and an enabler to the tragedy and therefore liable.
“The lawsuits will make their way to higher courts in places where the judges and juries are not sympathetic to gun enthusiasts, liability insurers will deny coverage claiming contributory negligence on the county’s part. The county will have such judgments to pay that they will not be able to fix potholes or buy a fire truck or update their Christmas decorations for decades. Liability policies for all the other Second Amendment sanctuary counties will be canceled or premiums will skyrocket.
“Counties will scramble to rescind the resolutions they hastily adopted. Another round of community squabbles will arise like we have now only worse, and gun sales will spike again.
“Meanwhile, the gun lobbyist who dreamed up this sanctuary stunt will be enjoying the backslaps from his or her colleagues and cronies and laughing about how gullible we
are. And I say that because every legal expert opinion that I have read says these resolutions are not worth the paper they are printed on – unless the constitutional officers of the county are onboard, and that would be the Sheriff and the Commonwealth’s attorney.”
Hall asked council to consider a simple counter resolution that says the Town of Pulaski will not be bound by any county resolution that can be seen to tie the hands of the town’s police, and that police will be trusted to use due diligence and common sense investigating and enforcing any law applicable to their jurisdiction.
“If you do that Pulaski can be the model for all the towns in this
country that do not want to be dragged by their county onto the slippery slope, deciding which laws to enforce.”
Council member Jamie Radcliffe spoke next.
“I take the second amendment to heart,” he said. “I’m a veteran, I’m a 30-year deputy sheriff. What these four eyes have seen in carnage – hangings, stabbings, rapes, muggings, everything. I’ve seen very little involving weapons.
“I love the Second Amendment. Have always and always will stand by it. As a police officer I would not ever, ever go to anyone’s house to remove their weapon. I would resign first. You’re not coming to my house to get mine; I’m not coming to get yours.”
Radcliffe asked for a show of hands.
“Who in here has been shot before,” he asked. “I was. With a .308 rifle from 12 feet away. Pierced my vest, my right lung and came back out. But I still stand by our second amendment right.”
Radcliffe said his shooter had a right to own that weapon.
“Yes, he went off. What he did was wrong. But if he hadn’t done it with a gun, he would have used a stick. Does that make it any better? Absolutely not,” he added.
Radcliffe then read a passage from a sanctuary resolution approved in Botetourt County that he modified for Pulaski:
“Council urges the Virginia General Assembly, United States Congress, other agencies and state and federal governments to vigorously preserve and protect those rights, by rejecting any provision, law and regulations that may infringe, have the tendency to infringe or place any additional burden on the rights of law-abiding citizens to bear arms in the Town of Pulaski.”
Councilman Joseph Goodman said in the last 20 years something in society has fundamentally changed.
“We’ve started to talk about guns and not thinking about what’s going on with the shooter. When there’s a shooting, we don’t blame the shooter. We don’t ask, ‘why did they do this. Did they not get the mental health support that they needed and that this country is so poor at making available?’ We always blame the gun. We blame the parents for not locking up the guns. We blame the bullet manufacturer for making the bullets. But we take no responsibility for why that person came to school and felt it was okay to shoot the people they didn’t like. When you drink and drive, is it the alcohol’s fault that you got in the car and hit somebody and killed them? Is it the car
manufacturers’ fault that you hit somebody and killed them? No, it’s your fault. It’s your fault that you got behind the wheel. You drove drunk and you killed somebody. But when it comes to guns, we blame the guns.”
Goodman said, “before we take away more of our rights, before we allow and tolerate the second amendment to be eviscerated, we have to ask ourselves what’s going on in our society.”
“I stand with all of you tonight. I stand for the second amendment. I stand for our great constitution of Virginia,” he said.
“Ron’s right. These shootings are going to continue to happen. You take away guns they’re just going to find something else. Guns are illegal in most of England except for hunting shotguns, but they still have gun crime. Heck, on Thanksgiving a guy took a knife, stabbed and killed two people. Two years before that a person got in the car and drove through a Christmas village and killed a bunch of people. You take away guns people are still going to find a way to kill each other. It’s when you bring back the sanctity and respect for human life, you solve this problem.”
Councilman Greg East added that, “Taking away guns would actually make things worse.”
By MIKE WILLIAMS, The Patriot