Buena Vista Joins 2A Sanctuary Movement

Buena Vista Joins 2A Sanctuary Movement
Buena Vista Joins 2A Sanctuary Movement
Buena Vista Joins 2A Sanctuary Movement

ADDRESSING members of Buena Vista City Council is Jason Omahony, who said he is not a Republican and believes there should be bipartisan support of a resolution declaring Buena Vista to be a Second Amendment sanctuary city. (all photos by Stephanie Mikels Blevins)

Buena Vista Joins 2A Sanctuary Movement

MIKE HAMILTON, a former state trooper, said law enforcement officers can’t always be relied upon to respond to disturbances in Rockbridge County in a timely manner because there are times when only two sheriff’s deputies and one state trooper are on duty to patrol the entire county. Therefore, he said, it’s incumbent upon private citizens to have firearms to protect their families.

Buena Vista Joins 2A Sanctuary Movement

THE LONE speaker to oppose the resolution was Jeffrey Cash (above, left). City Council member-elect Cheryl Hickman (above, right) urges passage of a resolution, as does Kendal Wheeler (at left). Jennifer Brown (below, left), chair of the Sixth District Republican Committee, said the Second Amendment is “nonnegotiable.” Listening to the speakers (below right, from left) are Vice Mayor Tyson Cooper, Mayor Bill Fitzgerald and Council members Lisa Clark, Danny Staton and Stanley Coffey.

Buena Vista Joins 2A Sanctuary Movement
Buena Vista Joins 2A Sanctuary Movement
Over 100 Attend Special Session To Back Resolution

Buena Vista was added to the ranks of Virginia localities deemed a sanctuary for Second Amendment rights after City Council on Saturday unanimously passed a resolution to that effect.

“... although the Council acknowledges that it has no legal authority to adopt local legislation which supersedes any law enacted by the Virginia General Assembly and that any determination regarding the constitutionality of legislation lies with the judicial branch of government, Council wishes to clearly and unequivocally express its support of the right of its citizens to keep and bear arms by declaring the city a Second Amendment sanctuary city. …,” states the adopted resolution.

One member of Council expressed reservations about using the word “sanctuary” but nevertheless cast his vote in favor of the resolution.

“This body to a person wishes to promote our Constitution,” observed Council member Steve Baldridge, who said he had a problem with using the “catch phrase, [sanctuary city]. … Sanctuary means to be a safe place from something that’s a threat – [in this case,] unconstitutional laws.”

City Council doesn’t have the authority to determine which laws are constitutional nor to disregard duly-enacted state laws, Baldridge noted. He allowed as to how “individuals can engage in acts of civil disobedience,” but Council as a local governing body cannot do so.

City Attorney Brian Kearney prepared drafts of two proposed resolutions for City Council to consider. Each dealt with pledging support for Second Amendment rights but only one used the phrase, “sanctuary city.” Several of the speakers who addressed Council on the issue spoke in favor of the city specifically declaring itself to be a sanctuary city.

Dennis Hawes said the Rockbridge Republican Committee supports inclusion of the word sanctuary in the resolution so Buena Vista would “be in synch” with the 100-plus other jurisdictions in Virginia who have passed similar resolutions.

Meeting in the Parry McCluer High School auditorium Saturday afternoon to consider adopting a resolution, City Council heard from gun rights proponents for the second time in three days. On Thursday Council moved its regular meeting to the firehouse to accommodate the large number of people who came out to voice an opinion on the issue. About 50 showed up Thursday and over 100 attended Saturday’s special session.

Chris Simpkins said the Second Amendment is all that stands between citizens and “tyranny.” He alluded to bills that have been introduced in the General Assembly for the upcoming session that, he insisted, would infringe on the right to bear arms.

He and a number of speakers said they oppose a so-called “red flag law” that would allow the confiscation of firearms from individuals deemed by a court to be a risk to others or themselves. Speakers raised the specter of someone with a vendetta against another person getting a court order to disarm that person.

Other proposed laws that speakers objected to included one that would prohibit under-aged gun ownership and other bills that would ban private ownership of assault weapons.

A resolution supporting Second Amendment rights, Del. Ronnie Campbell told Council, would send the message to the General Assembly to not “take away from us our constitutional rights, one at a time.”

Cheryl Hickman, who was elected to City Council last month and will take office in January, told her future colleagues to “protest against the trampling of our rights. … I’m asking you to stand up for not letting Richmond tread on us.”

Among the 18 speakers who addressed Council, only one opposed any of the resolutions under consideration. “These resolutions are worthless. They’re a dog and pony show to bow down to gun nuts,” said Jeffrey Cash. “If you don’t want to obey the law, you can sit in the jailhouse.” He noted that Attorney Gen. Mark Herring had issued an opinion the day before that the resolutions carry no legal weight.

Michael Hamilton urged Council to declare Buena Vista a sanctuary city. “Don’t be afraid of the word. It’s not going to hurt you. It will protect you.”

“There’s a reason our founding fathers used the phrase, ‘shall not be infringed,’” said Jennifer Brown, chair of the Sixth District Republican Committee. “The Second Amendment is non-negotiable.”

After hearing from the speakers, Council member Lisa Clark made a motion to adopt a resolution that included the phrase, “Second Amendment sanctuary city.” Stanley Coffey seconded the motion, remarking that removing the phrase “would take away” from the message the city is trying to convey to Richmond.

Steve Baldridge, after expressing his misgivings about the “catch phrase,” asked that the motion be amended to include specific references to and language from both the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Article I, Section 13 of the Constitution of Virginia.

The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, included verbatim in the resolution, is as follows: “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

Article I, Section 13 of the state constitution, also included in the resolution, reads “that a well-regulated militia, comprised of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state, therefore, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed … and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power, …”

Clark accepted the amendments to her motion. The amendments were adopted 7-0, as was the amended motion.

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