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Chesterfield Passes on “2nd Amendment Sanctuary” Movement, For Now

The Chesterfield County Public Meeting Room filled with people
Chesterfield County's Public Meeting Room was at capacity when residents showed up to talk about Second Amendment Sanctuary cities. (Photo: Ian Stewart/VPM News)

Dozens of counties in Virginia have passed resolutions declaring their communities “sanctuaries” from any new gun restrictions Virginia Democrats may pass this General Assembly session.

The proposals include universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons.

Despite pressure from vocal constituents who say those laws would be unconstitutional, the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors has, so far, declined to introduce such a resolution.

VPM News obtained a copy of a letter Chesterfield supervisors sent to the county’s legislative delegation -- urging them to uphold the constitution.

They also relayed residents’ concerns.

But the letter acknowledges, as well, that it’s up to the courts to determine whether new gun laws are constitutional -- not local elected leaders.

Rich Meagher, associate professor of political science at Randolph-Macon College, said he thinks the board recognized the resolutions are largely symbolic.

“It’s a much more measured warning than you would get out of some of these other counties where they’re passing these resolutions,” Meagher said. “And the warning is more of a kind of political warning and a suggestion that the General Assembly should reign itself in,  rather than a kind of threat of violence or a threat of disobedience.”

Chesterfield may still move to pass the resolution. Two newly-sworn board members, Kevin Carroll and Jim Ingle have expressed interest in revisiting the issue.

The “2nd Amendment Sanctuary” movement is in response to the November election results, in which Democrats gained control of the General Assembly, under Gov. Ralph Northam.