McDowell County Commissioners

McDowell County Commissioners, from left, Michael Brooks, President Cecil Patterson and Cody Estep meet in Welch to discuss the county budget, Aug. 14 2019.

WELCH — McDowell County has joined the ranks of localities that are now Second Amendment sanctuaries.

Cecil Patterson, chair of the county commission, said all commissioners agreed to pass the resolution and did so Wednesday at the commission’s regularly scheduled meeting.

“Every commissioner has been asked by people to do that,” he said. “Our phones have rung and rung.”

Patterson said it’s not a matter of being concerned about current legislators in Charleston.

“There appears to be no threat in our Legislature to pass any gun laws,” he said. “But people are scared with elections coming up that some people might get elected (who want to consider gun laws).”

Patterson was referring to the Second Amendment sanctuary movement in Virginia sparked by a Governor and legislators who are trying to push new gun laws through the General Assembly.

Most counties and many towns and cities in Virginia have already passed Second Amendment sanctuary resolutions.

Patterson said McDowell County’s resolution is modeled after many of those, including Tazewell County’s.

The resolutions not only say residents’ Second Amendment rights will be protected against any unconstitutional gun laws but also that no county funds will be used to in any way support the enforcement of any laws considered unconstitutional.

McDowell County’s resolution in “no way reflects on any of our current delegates or senators we have,” Patterson said. “People are just afraid of what’s going on in Virginia.”

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, has pushed several gun laws he says are “common sense” laws to protect the public.

After the November 2019 election, Democrats took control of both the House and the Senate in Virginia and have already introduced bills, including “red flag” laws (confiscating guns from anyone legally deemed dangerous to himself or herself or to others), universal background checks and allowing the purchase of only one handgun a month.

No Constitutional rights are infringed upon by these proposals, they say.

Tazewell County Eastern District Supervisor Charlie Stacy said when their Second Amendment sanctuary resolution was passed early in December 2019 that any law passed that may be deemed unconstitutional would immediately be challenged in court.

Patterson said residents of McDowell County have joined several other counties and municipalities in West Virginia that have passed or are considering passing the resolutions.

“They just want to make sure their Second Amendment rights are protected,” he said.

— Contact Charles Boothe at cboothe@bdtonline.com

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