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Residents Ask that Prince William Become ‘Gun Sanctuary’ County

| November 30, 2019 | 0 Comments | News

Approximately 30 citizens advocated that Prince William should become a gun sanctuary county, Tuesday, at the Board of Supervisors meeting. More attended the meeting.

If the resolution does pass, it would likely be overturned in January as the Democratic-majority board takes over. If the current board wants to take up that motion, it would have to do it on Dec. 10 or earlier, Dec. 3.

A “gun sanctuary jurisdiction” would decline any resources to assist the state in enacting new gun control laws. Thus far approximately 20 Virginia jurisdictions have declared themselves “gun sanctuaries” and other states are seeing similar movements.

It is a response to Virginia turning “blue” and what that could mean for gun ownership. The Virginia House of Delegates, under a new Democratic majority, has pre-filed several gun control bills. Bills would address universal background checks, flag laws and limitations on the kinds of assault weapons one can own.

Gov. Ralph Northam (D) is likely to support such legislation. On NPR, Nov. 8, he called “common sense” and “shouldn’t be a partisan issue.” Northam said they would not be confiscating guns. However, residents are now concerned that some legislation in the General Assembly legislation goes beyond “common sense.”

The gun legislation is designed to make the Commonwealth safer by making it difficult for citizens to obtain the kind of military style “assault weapons” often used to commit mass murder.

Virginia has experienced a mass shooting at Virginia Tech in 2007 and the the City of Virginia Beach in 2019. But when the General Assembly held an emergency session this summer, Republicans dismissed the session without any movement on the issues. And this year, Virginia Democrats made gun-control a top issue.

But, some gun-owning citizens noticed legislation that would not only affect criminals, abusers or the mentally ill, but everyday gun owners who collect, hunt, shoot for sport or seek to protect themselves and loved ones.

Virginia SB16 2020, introduced by Sen. Richard Saslaw (D-35th, Fairfax, Falls Church, Alexandria) would expand the definition of assault firearms and to prohibit their sale, transport, transfer and manufacturing in the state. A violation would be a Class 6 Felony, and it would be a misdemeanor to deal in any firearm with a magazine designed to hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

Gun advocates also disagree with other legislation Saslaw is proposing that would prohibit minors from operating guns without adult supervisors. They say there is no exception even to defend themselves nor does it consider whether the child has had proper gun training.

Speakers said that it is crucial that the current board send a strong message to Richmond that they will not have their 2nd amendment rights infringed upon. “It’s ridiculous that we have to stand up for these rights that are ours,” a Lake Jackson man said. “You need to stand up for our rights. You need to protect us.”

As a group, they were especially concerned that they may not be grandfathered in, and may be required to give back guns they own, or become “a felon.” Many said they would not comply.

The gun-owners explained that they owned guns and carried guns to make their families safer. Many are former military and say they are responsible gun owners. “You’re safer for having me next to you,” a Haymarket man said. “If evil has a gun, then I want one too.”

A Woodbridge man who worked for 19 years in law enforcement in D.C. called it “utter malignancy or complete ignorance” to think stricter gun laws will help make us safer.

One woman said red-flag laws are meant to protect someone like her, a victim of domestic violence, but would surely be used against victims like her as a sort of “revenge.” She said guns are necessary for women to protect themselves, especially if they have been victims before.

Some said that gun-control activists may be coming from a place of compassion but “emotion” should not overshadow the “facts.” Others said anti-gun legislators are just “ignorant” and “tyrannical.”

2nd Amendment proponents admitted they had organized at the last minute. Only one woman who spoke in favor of the newly proposed gun laws. She said her daughter was a student at Virginia Tech that day when the young man opened fire, so she felt she needed to come and say something.

Gun Restriction and Gun Deaths – Quick Stats

Source: Boston University School of Public Health

Data from the 50 states, shows a clear correlation between states with stricter gun policies and fewer gun deaths, whether that is due to the restrictions or the culture. And states that require stricter checks before purchase see a reduction in gun related violence.

Universal background checks, permit requirements, discretion over concealed carry, and banning people with convictions, are able to significantly reduce gun-related deaths (Center for Gun Policy and Research.)

Studies have shown that the biggest effect of red flag laws – by which a person could report another as possibly being unfit to have a gun – have led to a reduction in suicides by firearms (2016 Boston University Study.)

However, the effects on mass shootings has not been measurable, mainly because those incidents are fewer and far-between within states. Studies also show that bans on certain types of assault weapons do not make a noticeable difference in reduction of gun-related crimes (FBI & CDC). What’s more significant is who has the guns.

Citizens argued that said despite stricter regulations, places like New York and California have major gun violence problems. However, per capita, those states that have fewer gun deaths per capita than Virginia. Within cities, certain neighborhoods have worse gun violence problems and it often has to do with poverty.

States with the most lenient gun restrictions have the most incidents of gun-violence per capita (like Mississippi) and vice-versa (like Massachuttes.)

What Supervisors Plan to Do

Supervisors wanted to have the county attorney investigate what it means to be a sanctuary jurisdiction, and she will try to have it to them by Dec. 3 if possible.

On Dec. 3, the supervisors are not having citizens time and are meeting with the new legislative delegation at the Hickory Country Club.  There will be a citizen’s time on Dec. 10.

Gainesville Supevisor Pete Candland (R) said “I’m trying to digest” the resolution. Brentsville Supervisor Jeanine Lawson (R) said  she plans to read up on it. Both Candland and Lawson will be returning in January.

Chairman Corey Stewart (R) has been a gun-hawk when running for office, and would likely support such a motion, while other Republicans on the board tend to be more moderate. That means it while it certainly won’t pass the new board, it is a long-shot that it will be approved by the current board.

Legally, it may be the jurisdictions are out of line to break with state laws as per the Dillion Rule. Because politics have become more and more partisan, it is likely that conservative residents felt the Democrats might not consider their points of view, and instead turned to their local governments.



Correction: we previously said there would only be 2 Republicans on the next board. There will also be Yeslie Vega new supervisor for the Coles District.

© 2019, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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