Several hundred people crowded the Spotsylvania County office parking lot while another 195 packed into the Board of Supervisors meeting room Tuesday night.
The monthly agenda had a lot of items on it, but the big crowd was there to take aim at what they see as a threat to their Second Amendment right to bear arms. Most in the crowd were men, ranging from teens to older men with white hair. Many sported beards and camouflage gear. Some wore NRA hats.
Some were clearly hunters, others in the military. There didn’t appear to be anyone openly carrying guns, even though legal firearms are allowed in the building.
The crowd came to support the sanctuary amendment the board was set to vote on, like numerous other localities in Virginia during a recent drive by gun rights supporters to battle what they see as a threat to their Second Amendment right by the new Democrat-controlled General Assembly.
After three hours, during which about 60 people spoke, the board unanimously approved the resolution.
The speakers had their say, though, as a steady stream filed in to exhort their belief in the importance of the Second Amendment. Numerous speakers cited an attack on U.S. citizens’ basic rights. Some attacked “leftists” politicians and likened the situation as a ploy to take power away from people. Some said a war is coming and blood will be spilled.
Only a few speakers voiced opposition to the resolution, saying there are better ways to address the issue. They were partly drowned out by hecklers.
Those who spoke in favor of the resolution were roundly cheered.
Two women, both of whom immigrated to the U.S., drew large ovations after passionately speaking in favor of the Constitution.
One of those women, from Italy, said that country has very little gun rights for citizens.
“That is not freedom,” she said. “Do not let this happen here.”
The biggest ovation came for Sheriff Roger Harris. He wants politicians in Richmond to find solutions that will “help communities,” including mental health issues.
The crowd roared its approval after he told them he would “not send deputies to remove citizens’ firearms when they have done nothing wrong.”
“We’re all in this together,” he said.
Prior to the meeting, as he waited to speak, U.S. Marine and Spotsylvania resident Andrew Mintonsmith said he feels like the Second Amendment is under attack, adding that he has a shotgun that would be made illegal by a proposed restriction on how many rounds a gun’s magazine can hold.
New laws aren’t the answer, he said, explaining that he thinks changes would be “counterproductive to law-abiding citizens” when the focus should be on what leads people to commit mass shootings and other violent acts with guns.
The Spotsylvania resolution states that the board opposes “any law that would unconstitutionally restrict the rights of the citizens of Spotsylvania County to bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment …”
The staff report acknowledges that the board has no power to “nullify state or federal law” and that the resolution is symbolic.
Some speakers noted that the resolution might not have any teeth, but said supporting it is an important step in protecting basic rights of the country’s citizens.
Before the vote, Supervisor David Ross said the resolution backs a “core foundation” of the Constitution in that the “human heart is flawed and needs checks and balances."
“There is no hate in supporting the Second Amendment,” Ross said
Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436