By Stefanie Jackson – Northampton supervisors unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday night that supports gun rights but does not establish the county as a Second Amendment sanctuary.
The resolution “urges the Governor and members of the General Assembly to take no action which would violate the freedoms guaranteed” by the U.S. Constitution and Virginia constitution.
Some local governments in Virginia have passed resolutions on second amendment rights since the November election, when Democrats won majorities in both the House of Delegates and Senate, increasing the likelihood that a highly restrictive gun law could be passed in 2020, such as the one proposed in Senate Bill 16.
Spencer Murray, chairman of the board of supervisors, does not support the bill because it “would make weapon-owning, law-abiding citizens of our state … felons.”
The resolution written by Northampton supervisors appeared to be a compromise between gun owners who want their second amendment right protected at all costs and police who pledge to enforce all laws, even those that may be unconstitutional.
Sheriff David Doughty said he supports the U.S. Constitution and the Virginia constitution, but he took an oath to uphold the law and he can’t “pick and choose” which laws to enforce.
He gave his “full support” to the resolution as written.
Murray opened the public hearing on what he called a “highly emotionally charged issue.”
Roger Buyrn, of Eyreville Drive, near Cheriton, supported the resolution because Gov. Ralph Northam and state legislators are making an “overbearing gun control effort,” and “we can’t wait for an election cycle to rectify the wrongs.”
He referred to the section of the Second Amendment that calls for a “well-regulated militia.” A militia is defined as “every American citizen between the age of 18 and 45,” Buyrn asserted.
“If we’re left to defend this country … with pellet guns … we could be in a bad way,” he said.
An Exmore resident emphasized the importance of second amendment rights in rural areas. “If you live in New York City … you can expect to see a cop in four or five minutes if you have a problem, OK? It’s a little bit different here.”
Paul Dacyczyn, owner of Northampton Firearms in Cheriton, said, “I carry a gun for a living, these gentlemen over here in uniform carry a gun for a living. We all have one thing in common: we all pray to God that we never have to use it.”
“The whole point is, a good guy with a gun will stop a bad guy with a gun.”
Wesley Travis, of Cheriton, made a similar statement. “We don’t all wear badges, but we all stand up for each other because we are neighbors. We might not like each other all the time, but we are here for one another because we are Americans.”
“We’re at what feels like a pivotal moment in our state history,” he said.
Some citizens agreed that Northampton County should support second amendment rights, but it should not be a second amendment sanctuary. Others called for stronger language in the resolution.
Chris Willis, of Cape Charles, acknowledged that Sheriff David Doughty “can’t pick and choose” which laws to enforce, and if an unconstitutional law is passed “we have to fight it in the courts.”
But he believes the resolution should make a grand gesture by making Northampton a second amendment sanctuary, not take a “half measure.”
Exmore is the only town in Northampton that has passed a resolution to become a Second Amendment sanctuary. Exmore’s resolution implies that police officers should not be compelled to uphold laws that are unconstitutional.
Berkley Kelley, of Cape Charles, seemed to agree when he quoted Thomas Jefferson: “If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so.”