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Rockingham Joins Counties Declaring 2nd Amendment 'Sanctuary'

Calvin Pynn

Rockingham and Fluvanna Counties joined a long list of Virginia localities to declare themselves "Second Amendment Sanctuaries" Wednesday night.  The board's vote in Fluvanna was close --  3 to 2 in favor of the resolution.  But the Rockingham board voted unanimously in favor.  WMRA’s Calvin Pynn was at the meeting in Rockingham County, and filed this report.

(Sound of crowd at public hearing)

It was standing room only in Spotswood High School’s gymnasium as more than 3,000 Rockingham County gun rights supporters showed up to persuade the Board of Supervisors to adopt a resolution declaring the county as a Second Amendment sanctuary.

Credit Calvin Pynn

The Board unanimously voted to adopt that resolution after cutting the public comment period short to take action when it became clear that the majority of attendees supported Second Amendment protection.

(Sound of crowd shouting)

Crowd: Vote! Vote! Vote!

Rockingham County Supervisor, Pablo Cuevas.

(Sound of crowd cheering)

PABLO CUEVAS: The Board of Supervisors hereby expresses its continued intent to uphold, support, and defend all rights, protections, and guarantees by the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the Constitution of the United States of America.

Credit Calvin Pynn
Supervisor Pablo Cuevas addresses the crowd before the vote.

(Crowd cheers)

About 20 residents spoke up in support of the resolution, such as Daryl Borgquist of the Rockingham Republican Committee.

DARYL BORGQUIST: Tonight will likely be the largest attendance for a local government meeting in the county’s history because of the anticipated impact from new laws on Virginia families. Tonight is about taking a stand. 

Others, such as Ruth Jost,* spoke out in opposition.

RUTH JOST: The most important constitutional right that our state and federal governments are bound to protect is the right to life itself. The resolution seems to misunderstand the balance of the rights to guns with the right to life.

Credit Calvin Pynn
Daryl Borgquist of the Rockingham Republican Committee spoke in favor of the resolution.

The hearing got heated as those who spoke against the resolution were met with jeers and boos from the crowd.

(Sound of crowd booing)

The push to protect gun rights across Virginia comes in response to November’s elections. The state’s Senate and House of Delegates will have a Democratic majority in January. This has prompted anxiety among gun owners about potential laws that they fear may violate their Second Amendment rights.

As a Second Amendment Sanctuary, Rockingham County expresses its intent to not use funds to enforce certain potential gun control measures, including universal background checks, high capacity magazine bans, assault weapon bans, and red flag laws.

Credit Calvin Pynn
Resident Ruth Jost spoke in opposition. Many such speakers were greeted with jeers and boos from the crowd.

The Rockingham County Democratic Committee adopted a resolution last week urging the Board of Supervisors to not declare the county as a Second Amendment Sanctuary. Their resolution states that gun violence poses a major public health threat in Virginia, citing statistics from recent mass shootings – including those from the Virginia Beach shooting earlier this year, and the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007. 

While the supervisors’ resolution is not legally binding, Rockingham Democratic Committee Chair Thea Litchfield-Campbell says it sends a misleading message to voters.

THEA LITCHFIELD-CAMPBELL: The board isn’t the body that gets to decide what’s unconstitutional or not. If they truly have concerns that a law might not be constitutional, they need to take that to the courts, not to the County Board of Supervisors. 

In the Shenandoah Valley, Augusta and Page Counties unanimously voted to adopt Second Amendment Sanctuary resolutions last week, with Shenandoah County following suit on Monday, December 9.

*Note:  The Rockingham County resident mentioned in this story speaking against the resolution is Ruth Jost - not Ruth Jones, as previously reported.  WMRA regrets the error.

Calvin Pynn is a radio reporter, writer, and photographer based in Harrisonburg, Virginia.