BEDFORD — The Bedford County Board of Supervisors announced its intention to pass a resolution declaring Bedford County a “Second Amendment Sanctuary,” which a growing number of counties across Virginia are doing following the Nov. 5 statewide election.
Hundreds of residents attended the board of supervisors meeting on Monday to voice concerns their gun rights will be infringed by Gov. Ralph Northam and Democratic legislators who gained a majority in the state legislature after the election. About 200 residents were packed in the boardroom Monday night and about 200 more spilled out of the meeting room and into the lobby outside.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen this many people come to a meeting,” District 5 Supervisor Tommy Scott said during the meeting.
Scott told the crowd Monday a resolution would not be voted on during Monday’s meeting but county staff is preparing a “Second Amendment Sanctuary” resolution.
“We want you to know we stand with you in support of protecting our Second Amendment rights,” Scott said. “We are with you on this.”
The resolution — which Scott said would be voted on during the Dec. 9 board of supervisors meeting — will be the latest in a growing number of counties in Virginia passing resolutions to protect the Second Amendment rights of residents. Appomattox, Pittsylvania, Carroll and Campbell counties have already passed similar resolutions and both and Amherst and Franklin counties will be voting on resolutions in December.
The resolutions that have been passed are not legally binding.
The resolution passed in Appomattox County last week states the county’s “intent that public funds of the County not be used to restrict Second Amendment rights” and their intention “to oppose unconstitutional restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms through such legal means as may be expedient, including without limitation, court action.”
More than a dozen people spoke during the public comment period Monday, voicing concerns that Democratic lawmakers already have filed several gun control bills ahead of the January legislative session. Proposals include universal background checks, civil penalties for not reporting lost or stolen firearms to police, reinstating the state’s lapsed one-handgun-a-month law, and giving localities the ability to prohibit the carrying of firearms in a public space during an event that would require a permit.
“What they are trying to do is tyrannical,” Bedford County resident Steve Worth said Monday. “What they are trying to do is terrible and we cannot allow it to happen.”
Bedford resident Jerry Campbell said some of the measures state Democratic lawmakers are proposing are “completely unconstitutional.”
“We need to let people know that the United States Constitution is still the supreme law in the land,” he said.
Goode resident Tim Sexton agreed.
“When they start taking our rights away from us they aren’t going to stop,” Sexton said. “If they get our guns you can go ahead and rip up the U.S. Constitution and I’ll be damned if that is going to happen to me.”
Bedford County resident Brent Armitage said he was concerned about whether law enforcement agencies would respect the county’s resolution if certain laws are passed by Democratic lawmakers in the state’s General Assembly.
“What if I am pulled over by a state trooper?” he asked. “What would that mean in a sanctuary county? I don’t want to get pulled over one day and become a felon within minutes.”
Scott said Bedford County officials are considering that question and others as they prepare the resolution.
“We don’t have all the answers but we are trying to stay ahead of them,” Scott said. “The best way everyone here tonight can help us is to get in touch with your legislators in the General Assembly.”
Bedford County Sheriff-elect Mike Miller agreed.
“Don’t let it stop here tonight,” Miller said. “We have to take it to the state. We have great local support but we have to take it to the next level.”
District 4 Supervisor John Sharp encouraged people to go to Lobby Day on Jan. 21 at the State Capital in Richmond to voice their opposition to gun control legislation.
“Our first line of defense is to stop these laws from getting passed,” Sharp said. “In January we need to show them a crowd like they have never seen. They need to be afraid and they should be afraid.”