Portsmouth, Virginia city council members approved a resolution declaring the city a “Second Amendment constitutional city” earlier this week on a 4-3 vote, but it was the actions of city council member Nathan Clark that has a gun control activist demanding he resign.
Clark, a longtime member of law enforcement, carried an AR-15 into the council chambers during Tuesday evening’s meeting, and gun control activist Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jamie was murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, responded on Twitter.
Councilman Nathan Clark resign. Citizens you represent should not be forced to accept him engaging in open intimidation with his AR 15. You gun lunatic, in spite of your letter, nobody knows your intent. My daughter did not know someone carrying an AR 15 would kill her. https://t.co/iDSQV78ElB
— Fred Guttenberg (@fred_guttenberg) January 15, 2020
WVEC-TV in Norfolk reported that Clark issued a statement to the media before Tuesday night’s meeting explaining why he was carrying a gun that Ralph Northam wants to ban.
Citizens of Portsmouth,
First and foremost, thank you for your respectful approach regarding this hot-button issue regarding the rights bestowed upon us as constituents of this city, state, and country.
Now, I’m sure some of you are wondering why I appear before you with a gun strapped across my chest. I will attempt to be brief with my response.
The weapon I wear this evening is not a replica; it is not a toy. This weapon is one of the most controversial, centering itself between the two sides of this debate. This weapon is an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.
To some, this weapon looks and appears to be scary and intimidating, and some believe it to be downright dangerous. I can assure you, as long as this gun is strapped to my chest, it will not harm you. It will not be aimed or brandished, and the trigger will not be pulled. It will not shoot itself.
You see, I am a law enforcement officer. Though this weapon is personally owned, I am issued the same weapon by my agency. While I hope to never have the need, I must defend my right to bear this weapon as a means of protecting the citizens I serve while on duty, and my home when I am not.
The newly proposed gun legislation for the state of Virginia is ludicrous. The legislation will make criminals of lawful citizens and gun owners. Again, I am a law enforcement officer, and if this legislation is passed, I will also be made a criminal.
Taking away the rights of our citizens not only puts them in greater danger, but the act is unconstitutional. Criminals have always and will always break the law. We must punish the existing criminals for their actions, and not take away the means of defense from law-abiding citizens.
I have taken an oath as a soldier in the army, as a law enforcement officer, and a member of this council. I took the oath to defend The Constitution of The United States of America, and I don’t plan to break that oath now, or in the future.
For these reasons, I stand in support of the second amendment, as a citizen, veteran, police officer, and member of this council, and I oppose the newly proposed gun legislation.
It doesn’t sound like Clark plans on resigning over his point of view or his actions, nor should he. In fact, in response to Guttenberg’s criticism, the council member released another statement in which he said he “stands by” his actions.
“The Parkland shooting was undoubtedly a tragedy, and no one should have to go through that. I have been in law enforcement for 30 years and at one point I was a school resource officer – I can’t begin to imagine being in that situation.
“I stand by my actions last night. My intentions were far from negative, as I was standing up for what is right. I acted positively, and received plenty of positive feedback in return. As I previously stated, I will continue to stand by the oath I have taken as a veteran, law enforcement officer, and member of Portsmouth city council.”
I suspect that Nathan Clark is going to be a target of gun control activists during his re-election campaign later this year. I also suspect Clark might use that to his advantage in his re-election bid. Not only is he standing up for the Second Amendment rights of residents, but I imagine gun owners in his district would do everything they can to re-elect a politician who’s drawn the attention and ire of the anti-gun movement. As politically engaged as the state’s gun owners are at the moment, Clark’s actions could end up being a rallying point for supporters.