Sanctuary sought for gun rights

A member of the Louisa County Board of Supervisors wants the county to declare its opposition to gun control proposals now being floated in the Virginia General Assembly.

Those proposals could violate the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, Supervisor Duane Adams (Mineral district) said. He urged the board to pass a resolution that says Louisa will be a “Second Amendment sanctuary county.”

“A lot of citizens are concerned with the direction that our governor and the newly elected General Assembly are going to be taking,” Adams said. “This is an issue that the vast majority of the citizens of Louisa County are concerned about.” 

The board voted 5-0-1 on Nov. 18 to ask staff to draft a resolution and present it at the next meeting. Supervisor Fitzgerald Barnes (Patrick Henry) abstained from the vote. Supervisor Troy Wade (Louisa) was absent.

“It bothers me somewhat that we live in a world of fear,” Barnes said, after noting that he and several other board members carry firearms, including at their meetings. “We are jumping the gun. Let’s see what laws are introduced, then we can call our delegate and tell [him] what laws we want killed.”

The resolution Adams has in mind would borrow from others passed in recent weeks by several rural Virginia localities. Most are acting in response to the Democratic Party takeover of the General Assembly, which makes passage more likely for gun control bills that stalled when the Republicans controlled the House of Delegates and Senate. Carroll County, in southwest Virginia, passed a sanctuary bill related to guns last spring.

Many of the resolutions passed in other counties say that no local funds will be spent to restrict residents’ Constitutional right to bear arms.  

Legislators introduced several gun control bills before a special General Assembly session on gun violence in July. The bills have not been considered, because the Republicans adjourned the session early. 

The bills included one to implement a so-called red flag law, which would enable law enforcement to confiscate firearms from an individual when there is evidence they pose an immediate danger to themselves or others. Firearms would have to be returned to the owner after an emergency period of 14 days, although that period could be extended to up to 180 days. 

Another bill would require universal criminal background checks for firearms transfers, regardless of whether the transfer is by a licensed gun dealer or a private individual. The bill includes some exemptions, including transfers between family members.

Barnes said he would support a motion to have county staff find out what would have to happen “for us to lose our Second Amendment rights.” Adams wouldn’t agree to that. 

“We aren’t going to lose our Second Amendment rights, because they’re enshrined in the Constitution,” he said. “What I am concerned about is that if you listen to the governor’s last press conference, you can find lots of areas where they’re going to start infringing on our rights.” 

Supervisor Willie Gentry (Cuckoo district) said he supported Adams’ motion only so that he can review the language in the resolution.