A resolution declaring Amherst County a Second Amendment sanctuary county is targeted for a vote at the Amherst County Board of Supervisors' Dec. 3 meeting.
A crowd of a few hundred people showed up at the supervisors' Nov. 19 meeting to show support for the measure. If approved, Amherst would join Appomattox, Campbell and Pittsylvania counties, among others, as part of a statewide movement since the Nov. 5 election to push for Second Amendment gun rights. Nelson, Bedford and Franklin counties' governing boards will be voting on resolutions in December and an online petition recently formed seeking action from Lynchburg City Council.
Amherst County's draft resolution states Second Amendment sanctuary status is sought so "rights of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms for the purpose of lawful self-defense, community defense, and hunting" is part of the fabric of the community and must be respected, upheld and celebrated.
The draft document urges state and federal lawmakers and agencies not to adopt, accept or enact any provision, law or regulation that may infringe, have the tendency to infringe or place any additional burdens on the right of law-abiding citizens to bear arms.
The document states county officials also oppose any measure that may impose "additional regulatory burdens on the citizens or result in mandates, whether mandatory or practical, to expend public funds on enforcement or administration of such laws, or to require the constitutional officers of the locality to do so." The county expresses its intent to "take lawful actions to protect and support the rights of its citizens to keep and bear arms ... and not to aid in unconstitutional efforts to restrict these rights," the draft states.
The resolution further states the board is concerned that certain legislation prefiled for introduction in the upcoming Virginia General Assembly session and certain legislation that has been introduced in Congress may have the effect of infringing on residents' gun rights.
About a dozen people who spoke before the board during its Nov. 19 meeting favored the resolution as a stance against what they described as overreaching from the Democratic Party, which recently gained a majority in the state legislature.
Democratic leaders have said since the election they will introduce gun-control measures including universal background checks and banning certain military-style weapons, among others.
Gloria Witt, president of the Amherst chapter of the NAACP, told supervisors she is favor of measures to reduce the effects of gun violence and questioned where people need high-powered, military-style weapons that are common in mass shootings across the country.
B.J. Cash, who also addressed supervisors on the subject, said hunting is his family's favorite sport. He argued it's not fair for the blame to be laid at his feet and on his son for something someone else did with guns.
"Why do we have to pay for it?" Cash said in opposing any legislation that would infringe upon his rights.
Edward Olivares, a Monroe resident and veteran, said he immigrated to the county legally, became a citizen in 1951 and cherishes the constitutional right to bear arms. "That particular right I will carry until I die," Olivares said.
Chairman Jimmy Ayers said he doesn't believe any future gun control laws will prove effective in stopping violence and will only hurt law-abiding gun owners.
“I’m a firm believer that an individual that has a mindset to commit some form of criminal activity, it’s just like drugs. They’re going to find them," Ayers said. "It does nothing on those that have a criminal mindset to do harm. It does nothing because they will find them illegally. That’s not going to change. You’re not going to stop it."
The board's meeting Dec. 3 meeting begins at 1 p.m. at the county administration building, 153 Washington St. A public hearing will not be held on the Second Amendment sanctuary topic but the board does hold citizen comments near the beginning of the meeting.