WOODSTOCK – The Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors backed a resolution Monday to designate the locality a “Second Amendment Sanctuary.”

Supervisors voted 6-0 at a special meeting held at Central High School to adopt the resolution while facing pressure from the dozens of people who spoke in support of the action. Voting were Board Chairman Conrad Helsley, Vice Chairman John R. “Dick” Neese, and Supervisors Steven Baker, Dennis Morris, Karl Roulston and Richard Walker.

Morris made the motion to adopt the resolution. Neese seconded the motion. Morris and Walker made comments prior to the vote.

“We’ve seen and heard the citizens we serve loud and clear,” Morris read from a written statement. “We acknowledge their concerns.

“We also acknowledge the concerns of all citizens of our county and recognize that there is a difference of opinion on this very important matter,” Morris added. “We celebrate that we all have a right in this country to express our opinions and, furthermore, hold all of the rights in the constitution of our country and the commonwealth near and dear to our hearts."

Morris went on to read, before making his motion:

“We share the concerns that our commonwealth is prepared to consider legislation that will infringe on the rights of our citizens to keep and bear arms as protected by the Second Amendment,” Morris stated.

Several people were involved in the drafting and editing the resolution before the board, Walker said.

“So this resolution was not the product of one person,” he read from a written statement. “It was the product of our community.”

Walker lauded the people who attended both the board meeting in late November and the special meeting Monday for how they conducted themselves.

“I support the resolution because it does reflect our oath of office, because the laws that are already filed for consideration violate those provisions of the Constitution,” Walker read. “They’re too numerous to fight individually. They require the waste of local tax dollars in their enforcement and they put the citizens of Shenandoah County at risk.”

Walker went on to state that he thought Sheriff Timothy Carter and Commonwealth’s Attorney Amanda Wiseley could use the resolution as a means to not enforce proposed legislation if made into law.

“Hopefully the sheriff, who has indicated support for it and our commonwealth’s attorney, will be able to use this resolution as a basis for non-enforcement and non-enforcement prosecution within the county,” Walker read.

The non-binding resolution serves to send a message to the Virginia General Assembly and the governor’s office that the county does not support any legislation that would infringe on the constitutional right to bear arms, supporters have said.

The vote came after supervisors heard from dozens of people in attendance at the meeting, with all but one resident urging members to adopt the resolution. Supporters of the resolution spoke of their “God-given” right to bear arms as included in the U.S. Constitution and the need to protect their families, themselves and their country. Several speakers said they would not let the government take their weapons.

Other supporters used their three minutes to blast Democrats over abortion-rights legislation and the party’s efforts at the federal level to impeach President Donald Trump.

Opponents have argued that the courts determine the constitutionality of laws passed by the General Assembly. Neither the Board of Supervisors nor other county residents have that authority, opponents have said.

Shenandoah County now joins a growing number of other localities whose elected leaders endorsed the designation of “Second Amendment Sanctuary County.” The movement started as a Republican reaction to bills filed by Democrats in the General Assembly aimed at tightening state firearms regulations and reducing gun-related violence.

The resolution states:

Whereas, the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution reads: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” and.

Whereas, Article I, Section 13, of the Constitution of Virginia provides “That a well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state, therefore the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty, and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power,” and

Whereas, the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors is concerned and wishes to address “gun violence” in the US, not by singling out and criminalizing one of many tools but rather by addressing the rising culture of violence through improved mental-health services, augmented training for law enforcement officers and outreach to families and neighborhood under stress; and

Whereas, certain legislation that has been introduced in the Virginia General Assembly, certain legislation which has (or may be) introduced in the United States Congress could have the effect of infringing on the rights of law abiding citizens to keep and bear arms, as guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution and of Article I, Section 13 of the Constitution of Virginia; and

Whereas, the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors wishes to express its deep commitment to the rights of all citizens of Shenandoah County to keep and bear arms; and,

Whereas, the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors wishes to express opposition to any law that would unconstitutionally restrict the rights under the Second Amendment (U.S. Constitution) and Article I, Section 13 (Constitution of Virginia) of the citizens of Shenandoah County to keep and bear arms; and,

Whereas, the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors wishes to express its intent to stand as a Sanctuary County for the Second Amendment (U.S. Constitution) and Article I, Section 13 (Constitution of Virginia) rights and to oppose, within the limits of the Constitution of the United States and the Commonwealth of Virginia, any efforts to unconstitutionally restrict such rights and to use such legal means at its disposal to protect the right of the citizens to keep and bear arms, including through legal action, and the right to petition for redress of grievances.

Whereas, the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors acknowledges that the judicial system will ultimately receive matters of law, the Board also recognizes its civic duty to reflect the sense of its constituents to the Virginia General Assembly and respect those views by actively opposing infringement of the Constitution’s Second Amendment until and unless the judicial system confirms the constitutionality of pertinent legislation.

The resolution goes on to state:

That the Board of Supervisors hereby expresses its intent to uphold the Second Amendment (U.S. Constitution) and Article I, Section 13 (Constitution of Virginia) rights of the citizens of Shenandoah County and opposes creation of any laws that restrict those rights; and

That public funds of the County shall not be used to aid in the unnecessary or unconstitutional restriction of the rights under the Second Amendment (U.S. Constitution) and Article I, Section 13 (Constitution of Virginia) of the citizens of Shenandoah County to keep and bear arms; and

That the Board of Supervisors hereby declares Shenandoah County, Virginia, as a “Second Amendment (U.S. Constitution) and Article I, Section 13 (Constitution of Virginia) Sanctuary”.

– Contact Alex Bridges at abridges@nvdaily.com