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Resident advocates 'Second Amendment sanctuary' law in Wise County

Mike Still • Nov 16, 2019 at 6:00 PM

WISE — A Wise resident wants the Wise County Board of Supervisors to make the county a “Second Amendment sanctuary” in advance of a Democratic-controlled General Assembly in 2020.

Clarence “Rusty” Peters made the proposal during public comment at Thursday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, claiming that Gov. Ralph Northam’s legislative agenda in January would put limits on gun owners’ rights.

“What this does is tell Richmond that Loudon County and Fairfax doesn’t dictate exactly what we want to do and follow the law with,” Peters said. “If some of his proposals go through, he doesn’t believe anybody under the age of 18 should ever touch a firearm for any reason, whether it’s hunting or a training class or anything.”

Before July’s General Assembly special session, Northam outlined an eight-point series of proposed gun control legislation including:

— Background checks on all firearms sales and transactions.

— A ban on “dangerous weapons,” including assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, bump stocks and silencers.

— Reinstatement of the state’s one-handgun purchase law, which limited purchases to one within a 30-day period.

— Reporting lost and stolen firearms to law enforcement within 24 hours.

— Extreme risk protective orders that allow law enforcement and the courts to temporarily separate a person from firearms if he or she exhibits behavior that presents an immediate threat to self or others.

— Prohibiting all individuals subject to final protective orders from possessing firearms. Existing state law now prohibits individuals subject to final protective orders of family abuse from possessing firearms.

— Enhancing the punishment for allowing access to a loaded, unsecured firearm by a child from a Class 3 misdemeanor to a Class 6 felony and raising the age defining a child from up to 14 to up to 18.

— Allowing localities to enact any firearms ordinances that are stricter than state law, including regulating firearms in municipal buildings, libraries and at permitted events.

Northam’s proposals were rejected by the Republican-controlled legislature.

The one-handgun-a-month law was originally passed in 1993 during Democratic Gov. L. Douglas Wilder’s administration. Former Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, who voted for the law in 1993, signed a General Assembly repeal of the law in 2012.

“I don’t think that’s Wise County values,” Peters said of Northam’s proposals. “And this is just a way of us protesting in a mild, nice way that we don’t agree with that.”

Peters claimed that such a sanctuary law would “relieve our sheriff’s and police departments from liability if they refuse to enforce some of these — what I think are — unconstitutional acts.”

Peters cited a similar sanctuary vote on Tuesday by the Campbell County, Virginia, Board of Supervisors declaring the county a Second Amendment Sanctuary.

“I support that,” J.H. Rivers said later during board members’ comments. “If we can have that discussion and possibly consider the resolution — I believe the gentleman mentioned Campbell County, they have — I certainly would like to see us move forward with the discussion of that nature.”

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