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Prince William Board to Vote on Gun Control Resolution

| January 6, 2020 | 0 Comments | News

Prince William County newly elected Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Ann Wheeler

Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman At-large-Elect Ann Wheeler (D) has proposed a resolution that urges the Virginia General Assembly to address gun violence while affirming Prince William will remain a Constitutional County.

The resolution will go before the board on Tuesday, Jan. 7, on the first day the new board meets in 2020.

The resolution reads: “Urge Members of the Virginia General Assembly to Address Gun Violence Prevention in Virginia by Passing Gun Safety Legislation….and Increased Funding from the Commonwealth for Mental Health Screening and Services Throughout the Commonwealth.”

In the “Therefore Let It Be Resolved” section of the resolution, it resolves to supports legislation that would limit Virginians’ access to firearms. It recommends:

  • Limiting individual’s access to firearms “where they are deemed a threat to themselves or others;”
  • Requiring background checks for all gun purchases;
  • Limiting children’s access for firearms (to reduce suicides and accidental shootings);
  • Providing additional funding for firearm safety;
  • Providing additional funding for gun safety practices;
  • Waiving sales tax on gun safes and gun safety locks; and
  • Creating strong penalties for adults that allow unsafe access to firearms by children.

The resolution seems to be a response to the Prince William County Board of Supervisors declaring Prince William a “Constitutional County” regarding the 2nd Amendment Right to Bear Arms. This resolution was passed right before 5 out of 8 supervisors completed their terms, and the board switched hands from an overwhelming Republican majority to a Democratic one.

The “Constitutional County” was also passed among a wave of sweeping proposals by jurisdictions around the Commonwealth. Some jurisdictions around the state declared themselves “Gun Sanctuaries,” saying that they would not cooperate with the state in enforcing new gun legislation. Others said they would not allocate local funds to carry out these missions.

But opposing state laws would be in violation of Virginia’s Dillion Rule that greatly limits the power of local jurisdictions.

Some weaker resolutions simply voiced a board’s dissatisfaction with the newly proposed legislation. Prince William County’s was the latter. It satisfied many who spoke at citizen’s time in favor of not weakening the right to bear arms and against more restrictive legislation regarding guns.

That resolution passed 6:2 along party lines. All Republicans supported the resolution and all Democrats opposed. But that was the old board. The tables have turned and now the board leans Democrat 5:3. It makes the passage of the new resolution highly likely.

The resolution would not overthrow the previous resolution. In the “Wherefore” section of the resolution, it states that the board continues to affirm the Constitutional County as they must swear an oath to support the constitution of the United States and that of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Supervisors will be taking that oath on Jan. 6, 2020.

However, the resolution acknowledges the problems Virginia has with gun violence, and attributes them to easy access to guns, the need for further mental health services, and the need for more education on gun safety practices.

The resolution references the mass shootings at Virginia Tech in 2007 and Virginia Beach Municipal Building in 2019.

It notes suicides 60% of suicides in Virginia are committed by guns. It states Virginia is “one of 17 states where more people are killed annually due to gun violence than in car accidents” and “women are killed with guns by intimate partners at a higher rate than the national average.”

The resolution does not affirm the taking of guns even guns with high number of bullets per magazine. Nor does it support the ban on such weapons.

Regardless, the proposed resolution has stirred controversy. One complaint is that the proposal is scheduled for the afternoon not the evening, thus fewer people will be able to speak during citizen’s time. It is also being voted on the same day it will be proposed.

Brentsville Supervisor Jeanine Lawson (R) urged residents who can come to speak Tuesday afternoon to do so, and others to send emails to their supervisors or the entire board.

As for Wheeler she posted Dec. 2 to her Facebook page saying, “elections have consequences!”

Underneath was a TV piece where she said, “we will overturn it Jan. 1,” regarding the Constitutional County designation. She also said that whatever laws the legislature enacts “we will want to enforce and follow.”

© 2020, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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