A Second Amendment advocate proposed a resolution to the Nelson County Board of Supervisors during its Feb. 11 meeting to support a call for muster of an unorganized militia in Nelson County.
The resolution came just less than a week before Gov. Ralph Northam’s push to ban the sale of assault weapons failed in the General Assembly on Monday, according to The Associated Press. Senators instead decided to table the bill for next year and ask the state crime commission to study the issue further.
Paul Cangialosi, of Gladstone, gave the proposed resolution to board members during the public comment portion of the meeting, saying it was a necessary next step to protect Nelson County citizens’ Second Amendment rights.
“I’m here to talk about the next step in the process of protecting not just the Second Amendment right but all the … constitutional rights of the citizens in Nelson County,” Cangialosi said to the board.
The proposed resolution would provide the board of supervisors a means to call for a muster of the unorganized militia in Nelson County.
According to Virginia state code regarding the composition of a militia, the militia “shall be divided into three classes: the National Guard, which includes the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard; the Virginia Defense Force; and the unorganized militia.”
The proposed resolution also would give the county oversight of the unorganized militia.
In his remarks to board members, Cangialosi said “county oversight would benefit everyone involved.”
“We are offering [supervisors] the chance as the local civil power to exercise your authority to hold a local unorganized militia,” Cangialosi said.
The board took no action on the proposed resolution during the meeting and at least three of the five board members are hesitant to back it.
Under the Virginia Constitution, only the governor has the authority to muster militias, Campbell County Staff Attorney Kristin Wright said last week.
East District Supervisor Jesse Rutherford said while he is in support of a militia in Nelson County, he doesn’t believe the board of supervisors should have a role in it.
“Yes, it’s constitutional; yes, what they’re going to do is fine. ... Do I think it’s appropriate for local government to participate? Not really,” Rutherford said. “It’s not that I don’t support it, I just see it as unnecessary.
Rutherford said he has no plans to bring the resolution in front of the board.
“I feel like a militia asking permission from the government is an oxymoron of a militia,” he added.
North District Supervisor Tommy Harvey said in a phone interview after the meeting he has “absolutely” no intention of bringing the resolution back to the board for further consideration. He added it is not a measure needed in Nelson County.
Central District Supervisor Ernie Reed agreed, with Rutherford and Harvey.
“It’s not worth the paper it’s printed on, but it does send a message to Richmond that people care about their guns,” Harvey said.
Cangialosi said the resolution as it stands not only would serve as a means of protecting Nelson County’s citizens’ right to keep and bear arms, but also could be a body the county can deploy during times of crisis.
The resolution — which states participants must be “willing to serve as auxiliary sheriff’s deputies or members of a future Nelson County Militia” and must be between the ages of 18 and 55 — also outlines specific codes of conduct members would be required to follow, including a dress code and how to properly carry their firearms.
According to the proposed resolution, volunteers may not be current felons or be under any restraining orders. They cannot wear clothing containing political messages and only can wear or display flags of the United States, the flag of the Commonwealth of Virginia or the flag of Nelson County.
Members must be willing to provide contact information to the sheriff’s office for the purpose of being incorporated into emergency management plans and for background checks, which he said would be a vital resource.
He said if supervisors agreed to oversee the militia, county officials would have access to the group in case of emergencies or disasters.
“If the militia needed to be called up for some reason … they would have a list of a few hundred people who they could immediately get in contact with and ask for help,” Cangialosi said in a phone interview after the meeting.
Residents in nearby counties also have expressed interest in the movement. Campbell and Amherst counties have militia musters scheduled for Feb. 29 and March 7, respectively.
Michael Routon, a U.S. Air Force veteran, plans to ask supervisors in Amherst County next month to approve a resolution in support of a county militia. Before he goes before the board, he is asking militia supporters to muster at Coolwell Community Center on March 7 to gauge interest among county residents.
“We want to make sure we have enough support to push it forward,” he said.