September 28, 2020

County passes ‘constitutional county’ resolution

The York County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution declaring it a Constitutional County during its Dec. 17 meeting.

The board heard about 70 speakers before voting 4-1 to pass the resolution. Most of the speakers supported the resolution but wished it went further to declare the county a Second Amendment sanctuary. Many said they hoped the vote, and many others like it across the state, would send a message to Richmond.

The Virginia Citizens Defense League defines a Second Amendment sanctuary as “any locality that says it will not enforce unconstitutional (federal or state) gun laws.”

The movement has gained traction since the pre-filing of SB 16, a bill authored by Northern Virginia Democratic Sen. Richard Saslaw that would expand the definition of assault firearms and “prohibits any person from importing, selling, transferring, manufacturing, purchasing, possessing or transporting an assault firearm,” according to the summary of the bill. If found guilty, the person would be convicted of a felony.

The proposed new definition of assault firearms, in general, includes semi-automatic weapons with a capacity of more than 10 rounds. It includes no “grandfather clause” for people who currently own such firearms.

“If these bills become law, they will substantially reduce the ability for me and my fellow Yorktown residents to adequately defend ourselves,” resident Steve North said during York County’s Board of Supervisors meeting.

Several of the board members decried the low voter turnout in the last General Assembly election.

Chairman Thomas G. Shepperd Jr. said, “50.1 percent of the registered voters did not vote. What we get in the process in Richmond reflects that … I’m really upset that 50.1 percent did not bother to get out and vote.”

“I can’t emphasize enough the importance of the ballot box,” District 4 Supervisor Jeffrey D. Wassmer said.

District 1 Supervisor Walter C. Zaremba also criticized the lack of voter turnout and hoped the resolutions would send a message to the General Assembly.

“If our elected officials in Richmond are deaf and don’t want to listen to us, it’s two years between now and the next election,” he said.

The lone vote against the resolution was District 2 Supervisor Sheila Noll, who said she had struggled with it.

“This resolution is unlike any resolution that we have had before the Board of Supervisors in the 24 years I have served you,” she said.

Noll added that she supported Second Amendment rights but disagreed with the process.

“This resolution came too soon and too fast for a thorough vetting of all the legal ramifications the county might face,” she said. She added the courts were the right place to determine whether the law is constitutional or not.