Less than a month ago, hundreds of northern Virginia gun owners turned out in support of a Second Amendment Sanctuary resolution in Prince William County and cheered as supervisors approved a resolution in support of the right to keep and bear arms.
Now, the Republican majority on the county board has disappeared, and newly-sworn in supervisors are expected to leave that resolution in place, while also adopting a resolution supporting gun control at their first supervisors meeting on Tuesday.
The now Democratic-controlled Prince William Board of County Supervisors is poised to adopt a resolution Tuesday urging state lawmakers to pass a handful of new gun-safety laws and boost funding for mental health treatment and firearm safety training.
The measure is the newly elected board’s response to the “constitutional county” resolution adopted during the last meeting of the previous county board, which had a 6 to 2 Republican majority, and reflects the political sea change under way as board switches to Democratic control.
The Prince William Times reports that the incoming chair of the supervisors, Democrat Ann Wheeler, plans to leave the existing Second Amendment Sanctuary resolution in place.
“There’s no intent to overturn the constitutional county resolution,” Wheeler said Saturday. “You know, I believe that following the Constitution and gun safety legislation are not mutually exclusive.”
Indeed, the first few clauses of the proposed resolution note that every elected official in the commonwealth of Virginia, including county supervisors, must swear to uphold both the U.S. and Virginia Constitutions.
The measure also states the board “wishes to express its commitment to the rights of law-abiding citizens of Prince William County to legally keep and bear arms.”
After paying lip service to the Second Amendment rights of residents, the proposed resolution then urges lawmakers in Richmond to support several gun control measures that would restrict or infringe on those rights.
- Pass the so-called “red-flag bill,” which would allow a judge to temporarily limit access to firearms by individuals deemed a threat to themselves or others “while preserving due process;”
- Eliminate potential background check loopholes by requiring background checks for all gun purchases through a federal firearms license;
- Support laws limiting children’s access to firearms to reduce adolescent suicides and accidental adolescent shootings;
- Provide additional state funding for firearms safety education;
- Waive sales tax on gun safes and gun safety locks to promote safe gun handling practices; and
- Strengthen penalties for adults who allow unsafe access to guns to children.
Interestingly, the Prince William Times notes that the resolution doesn’t mention the ban on modern sporting rifles and “high capacity” magazines proposed by state Senator Dick Saslaw. That may be a sign that the proposed gun ban is going to face a tougher fight in the legislature than anticipated, or it could just be a sign that these newly-elected Democratic supervisors in Prince William County don’t want to go on the record in favor of confiscating firearms from legal gun owners.
Unfortunately, given the resolution’s support for “red flag” legislation, supervisors are, in fact, going to endorse a proposal that would confiscate firearms from legal gun owners who have not been convicted or even accused of a crime. Additionally, the so-called “safe storage” bills that the supervisors are endorsing would make it a crime for a parent to allow their 17-year-old daughter access to a firearm for self-defense while she’s home alone, or to allow her to hunt by herself on the family farm.
I expect that turnout for Tuesday’s board of supervisors meeting in Prince William County is going to be high once again. I’m not nearly as optimistic about the chances that the newly-elected board members will actually listen to the voices of those in attendance.