With Virginia in the midst of an historic grassroots movement taking shape, I’ve decided to attend as many county supervisors meetings as I can, and Monday night I headed north from Farmville to Louisa, Virginia, where county supervisors were set to vote on a Second Amendment Sanctuary resolution.
As I pulled in to the county administration building’s parking lot, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed when I only spotted a handful of cars in the parking lot about a half hour before the meeting was scheduled to begin. I pulled into a parking space and was getting ready to head inside when a gentleman stopped me and asked if I was there for the “Second Amendment meeting.”
After I told him that’s exactly why I was there, he gave me directions to a gymnasium about a mile down the road. The county had moved the meeting to a larger location based on anticipated turnout, and that was a wise decision. As I arrived police were directing traffic onto makeshift grass parking lots about a quarter mile from the venue, because the parking around the gym was already full.
There were easily one thousand folks inside the gym, with dozens more outside in the lobby. I was able to squeeze my way into a back corner of the gym in time to hear Supervisor Fitzgerald Barnes announce an additional resolution that specifically expresses the county’s opposition to SB 16, which makes it a felony to continue to possess rifles that are currently lawfully owned. The crowd roared its approval as the supervisors moved to place the resolution on the calendar for its next board meeting.
Board Chairman Toni Williams announced that there were more than 400 individuals who had not requested to speak, but wanted the board to know they supported the Second Amendment resolution. He also told the crowd that there were two individuals who wanted the board to know their opposition.
The first citizen to address the board also expressed his opposition to the resolution, instead imploring the board to support gun control legislation like Senate Bill 16.
“Nobody’s coming to take your cars away because you have a drivers license, or because your car is registered, or there are laws making sure it’s safe” the man implored. “And we’re not trying to take your guns away because we want to make sure that assault weapons, which have no real home defense value or hunting value, are illegal. Or that we want to know who has guns and what guns they have so that when crimes are committed we can hunt them down.”
The citizen wasn’t booed by the crowd, but there was only a smattering of applause when he finished. The next person to speak got a huge ovation, on the other hand, when he told the supervisors that there are several thousand veterans living in Louisa County who don’t want to see the Second Amendment rights of residents chipped away by lawmakers in Richmond.
The NBC affiliate in Charlottesville, Virginia was on hand and reported the crowd at around 600, though I believe they’re only counting the number of citizens who actually filled out a card to express their support for the resolution. There were a lot of folks who never even made it inside the packed gymnasium, and many folks who didn’t wait in line to sign up to speak or to write down their opinion for the supervisors.
Outside the building where the supervisors meeting was taking place, there were dozens more gun owners talking to themselves and straining to hear the speakers through the vents at the top of the gym building.
Ernie Buckler was standing beside his pickup truck talking to Casey Harlow while a good size buck rested on a box in the truck’s bed. Buckler had come straight from hunting to the supervisors meeting, and said he wasn’t surprised to see so many of his fellow Louisans turn out.
“Not for this area, for this county, and the state of Virginia,” he told me. “It’s going to be like that in the majority of the counties.”
“We weren’t able to squeeze into the gymnasium,” said Harlow, “but we showed up and at least showed a little bit of support.”
Buckler told me that he’s worried about what these impending gun control laws will mean for future generations of Virginians.
“I’m concerned that my grandchildren and their kids may not have the same opportunities in the outdoors with guns and hunting and recreational shooting and it bothers me a lot because it is very rewarding for the people who love the outdoors to shoot, to go hunting. It’s our right, but it’s also a lot of fun.”
While the resolution was approved by supervisors, they also warned the crowd in attendance that this is only the beginning.
Although this is a victory for some, Supervisor Wille Gentry says there will be more bridges to cross in the future. “There’s a lot of work that needs to be done, there’s going to be a rapid amount of bills coming out there and we got to stay on top of those.”
Supervisors say Monday night was the best turnout they’ve had for a meeting in about 10 years. They hope more people will come out to the meetings to fight for their rights.
I hope so as well, and not just county supervisors meetings. If every Virginian that shows up for the county meetings is able to get to Richmond for Gun Owners Lobby Day on January 20th, that will send a message to lawmakers that gun owners are going to back and down and meekly comply with the wave of unconstitutional gun control laws heading our way.
I’ve now been to two Second Amendment Sanctuary meetings, and I’m planning on heading to Amherst County for its meeting Tuesday night. Next week, the fight moves closer to my home, with Buckingham County supervisors set to hear a resolution on Monday, December 9th, and Prince Edward County on December 10th. It’s entirely possible that by then, close to half of the state’s 95 counties will have adopted resolutions or ordinances designed to protect the Second Amendment rights of residents.