Some 600 people spilled out onto the sidewalk of the County Administration Building Monday night as the Board of Supervisors heard nearly two dozen speakers urge passage of a Second Amendment Sanctuary resolution in the county.
At least two speakers spoke in opposition of such a resolution.
Pulaski County is the latest of several counties and cities – primarily in Southwest Virginia – to take up the issue of becoming Second Amendment Sanctuaries.
Gun rights supporters have been spurred into action by comments made by Gov. Ralph Northam following the Nov. 5 election in which he promised to pass “common sense gun safety legislation” with the help of the new Democratic majority in the legislature that was elected on Nov. 5.
According to Cloyd District Supervisor Joe Guthrie, Gary Hughes was the first person to approach the county about the Second Amendment Sanctuary issue, and because of that Hughes was allowed to go first Monday night to summarize the feelings of the vast majority of those attending the meeting.
Hughes, of Fairlawn, said a Second Amendment Sanctuary resolution would “send a message to the governor that we stand united and is a great first step.”
“However, the governor and many of the newly elected majority have said they intend to neither give in, back down or compromise on this.”
Hughes said that is why “we need nullification if this resolution is going to be successful.”
Hughes said that nullification in government means “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 over-reaching and unconstitutional.”
Hughes continued that in Virginia, “we elect free-standing constitutional officers including the Sheriff and Commonwealth’s Attorney who are not answerable or controlled by Richmond. We hope!”
“The local government has no control over their work performance. Constitutional officers are elected by the voters. They are neither hired nor fired by the locality,” Hughes stated.
“The successful local nullification and creation of a Second Amendment Sanctuary is only possible by a pledge from the local constitutional officers serving as Sheriff and Commonwealth’s Attorney with additional assistance of the Board of Supervisors. Each constitutional officer and Board of Supervisors member have taken an oath to uphold the constitution above all else, and I surely hope the words that you said are not just words on a page, for those words are written in blood by men and women who have given their all – sacrificed everything – for this country to defend that constitution that you have taken an oath to uphold,” Hughes said.
“The General Assembly’s anticipated violation of the constitution is something every public official must consider. It is a check on the violation of our rights, and this is why the oath does not say ‘uphold the constitution based on what the people in Richmond determine it to be.’”
Hughes told the supervisors that a Second Amendment Sanctuary resolution needs the following:
1-The Commonwealth’s Attorney pledge to decline to prosecute and promise 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 allegations of violations of any gun legislation that is enacted from Jan. 1, 2020 forward.
3-The Sheriff’s pledge 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’s 9-1-1 system, vehicles, jail or personnel.
“This is how we will protect our 2nd Amendment rights from Richmond’s over-reach, and determine which government official at the local level needs to be voted out in the next election,” Hughes said.
“Remember, a resolution without tangible nullification is simply a statement of opinion with no teeth. Gun owners must require these four steps from their elected officials in order to be successful.”
“I’ve always supported our police officers and always will,” Hughes stated. “I’m a 67-year-old law-abiding citizen and I will never comply with any law that infringes on my Second Amendment rights,” he concluded to thunderous applause from the overflow crowd.
Several citizens added to Hughes’ comments in favor of the sanctuary resolution.
Don Holt told the gathering “Everyone knows that when these gun-grabbers get started on a gun issue, they don’t know when to stop. Criminals don’t abide by the law. If Gov. Northam wants to start a war on gun rights, I would hope that this county will show that we’re ready to fight the battle.”
One speaker said he wished there had been as much enthusiasm for the school.
“It’s really a shame to have this kind of turnout and talk about doing what’s best for Pulaski. You guys (supervisors) punted on the opportunity to do the best thing for Pulaski and put it out to the voters. You didn’t have the courage to stand up for education. Now everybody here seems to be standing up just for guns.”
He continued on both the First and Second Amendments, saying that “we do accept limitations on both of those presently,” noting you can’t yell “fire” in a crowded theater or threaten someone. “That is not protected speech.”
He said the same applies to gun laws.
“Everybody in here accepts gun laws,” he said mentioning laws about things such as sawed-off shotguns or automatic weapons.
“There are infringements that we do accept, and some of the problems I hear and the fears that the government is going to take all your guns and you won’t be able to protect yourself, and all these worst-case scenarios in California or New England that have never happened. It’s fear that is driving a lot of this stuff and it doesn’t serve the purpose.”
He continued that the big fear is that one day all the guns will be gone and that will never happen in America, he said.
His comments on education didn’t sit well with McCready.
“You came up here and made a statement that is flat wrong. You said that this board of supervisors punted on the middle school. I suggest you do a little bit of research because the School Board came to this place with a resolution that said, ‘please Board of Supervisors put this on the ballot.’ Go read it. That’s all they asked for. ‘Put it on the ballot. Just give us a fair chance.’ And all five of us (supervisors) voted to do what? Put it on the ballot. And if we had done the way the School Board wanted to do, you know how much more it would have cost you (citizens)? $10 million more. So, don’t tell me what happened,” McCready said to loud applause from the audience.
Another speaker in opposition to the sanctuary resolution said the laws being proposed by Northam and the coming Democratic majority in the legislature aren’t designed to take away firearms.
“They are designed to be able to make sure that we are all protected
from those that do the most harm and do the most damage.”
Most of those citizens attending Monday’s meeting on the Second Amendment issue weren’t able to get into the board room to speak or hear comments. The room’s 140 seats were filled. So, the over 400 people standing outside the County Administration Building made their feelings known by signing a petition in support of a sanctuary resolution. The speaker presenting the petition to McCready noted that even more people had left before signing the petition.
McCready explained to the crowd that the board wished to hear from the public first, then consider speakers’ comments along with nearly a dozen sanctuary resolution proposals the board is aware of.
He said the board intends to fashion the resolution it believes is best for the county and then present it at its Dec. 16 meeting. McCready said the board intends to vote on the resolution that night. That meeting is set to begin at 7 p.m.
By MIKE WILLIAMS, The Patriot