Supervisors approve Second Amendment Resolution

There are 95 counties and 38 independent cities in Virginia. As of Wednesday, the local governing bodies in 84 of those counties and nine of the cities had passed either sanctuary or supportive Second Amendment resolutions.

Pulaski County is now one of those counties following Monday night’s unanimous passage of a resolution declaring this a Second Amendment Sanctuary.

The move was not automatic, as the proposed resolution put forth by county administration first would have declared Pulaski County to be a Second Amendment “supportive” county – the same designation Montgomery County’s Board of Supervisors adopted earlier this week.

Pulaski County Administrator Jonathan Sweet read the proposed resolution – the fifth version crafted by him since last month’s board meeting.

In defending the supportive resolution, Sweet said it focused on what the Board of Supervisors can actually control, which is local legislation.

Sweet said the proposal would give the supervisors the right to pass laws that do not infringe on citizens’ Second Amendment rights if in the future “this Dillon Rule state affords its localities the right to impose their own legislation regarding gun laws.”

In a Dillon Rule state, localities can only pass laws they are given the right to pass by the state government.

Sweet noted the term “nullification” had been added to that latest proposal, and said the resolution includes “strong language that sends a clear message to federal and state legislators” on the gun right issue.

He said it also included the board’s pledge “not to expend Pulaski County taxpayers’ funds to enforce any legislation declared to be an infringement on the Second Amendment.”

Sweet said the resolution “in essence puts Pulaski County in the sanctuary category without effectively misleading our citizens that we could be what ‘sanctuary’ means – a safe refuge.”

Sweet added that counties don’t have the level of sovereignty that states have.

“The state does not grant us that authority or ability. We can encourage our constitutional officers to stand with us with respect to our position, and we have letters on hand from both the Sheriff and Commonwealth’s Attorney saying they, too, will uphold and defend the Constitution of the U.S. and Virginia,” Sweet said.

“It has been said and debated whether or not sanctuary is a symbolic measure and I think it’s been determined that it is,” Sweet said.

“What we have the ability to do is promise to citizens, taxpayers and voters that we won’t infringe on Second Amendment rights and that we will assist them in defending their rights through nullification and every legal means possible, including not spending any of their tax dollars to ever impose an infringement on their Second Amendment rights.”

That fifth version of the proposed resolution, however, would turn into the sixth fairly quickly after Gary Hughes’ comments to the board.

The Fairlawn resident was allowed to speak first again because he was the first resident to approach the county government on the sanctuary issue.

Hughes gave another rousing speech in support of gun rights and closed by calling on the supervisors to “strike the word ‘supportive’ in their resolution and replace it with ‘sanctuary.’”

His request was met with loud applause from the approximately 800 citizens attending the meeting at Central Gym where it had been moved to accommodate the expected turnout. Over 600 citizens attended last month’s meeting in which supervisors received comments on the sanctuary issue.

If the board changed the wording to “sanctuary,” Hughes said, “it will send a message to Gov. (Ralph) Northam that the citizens and the government of Pulaski County stand together in protecting the Second Amendment.”

Cloyd District Supervisor Joe Guthrie agreed, saying “this is truly a Pulaski County resolution.”

He then offered a motion to make the change in wording, he said, for two reasons.

“Sanctuary is being used in localities across the state and we want to be in unity with them, and because this is a grassroots resolution. We’re doing it different in Pulaski County. This is from the people,” he said.

Board Chairman Andy McCready asked for a second to Guthrie’s motion, which was offered by Draper Supervisor Dean Pratt and the board voted to make the change in wording, 5-0.

The board heard more comments from citizens, many of whom thanked the supervisors for making the change in the resolution.

E.W. Harless urged those in attendance to register and vote to “take back the state.”

One speaker thanked the board and noted he’d been doing a lot of reading.

“The scary thing about all this is none of this really matters. None of it. I think everyone here will agree. But steps like this are the only steps we (citizens) have. That is why it is so important for you guys (supervisors) to take our word and do what you are doing.”

He continued he is afraid “we are at the prelude to war,” and told the supervisors, “we’ve got your back.”

Another citizen told the audience, “if you don’t register and don’t vote, you don’t have a voice. If you have no voice, you’ll get run over.”

McCready told the 800 people in attendance they represent about 2 percent of the county’s population.

“This is one of the most powerful messages we can send,” he stated.

With that Ingles District Supervisor Ranny O’Dell made the motion to approve a resolution declaring Pulaski County a Second Amendment Sanctuary. Robinson District Supervisor Charles Bopp seconded the motion and the resolution was approved on a 5-0 vote.


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