PRINCETON — A resolution making Mercer County a Second Amendment Sanctuary will be an item Feb. 11 on the Mercer County Commission’s monthly meeting agenda.
County Commission President Gene Buckner said Friday that the county wanted to show support for neighboring Virginia counties which are facing restrictive gun laws being proposed in the Virginia General Assembly. The resolution is a precautionary measure, too.
“We’re just trying to support the Second Amendment through the state to keep things that are happening in Virginia from happening in our state,” Buckner said.
In January, the McDowell County Commission voted to make the county a Second Amendment Sanctuary. Cecil Patterson, chair of the county commission, said that county residents had been asking every commissioner to adopt that measure.
Patterson stated that the sanctuary measure wasn’t adopted because of concerns about current legislators in Charleston. There did not appear to be a threat of new gun laws in the Legislature, but the county’s residents “are scared with elections coming up that some people might get elected (who want to consider gun laws).”
Proposed gun legislation in Virginia is among the reasons some citizens speaking before a recent meeting of the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors urged elected officials to consider “Vexit,” the idea of leaving the Commonwealth and joining West Virginia. The Bland County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in November 2019 to become a Second Amendment Sanctuary.
Prosecuting Attorney George Sitler drafted Mercer County’s resolution and is scheduled to present it during the commission’s Feb. 11 meeting.
“Whereas, the Mercer County Commission is concerned about the passage of any bill containing language which could be interpreted as infringing the rights of the citizens of Mercer County to keep and bear arms or could begin a slippery slope of restrictions on the Second Amendment rights of the citizens of Mercer County,” according to the resolution.
“Whereas, the Mercer County Commission wishes to express its intent to stand as a Sanctuary County for Second Amendment rights and to oppose, within the limits of the Constitutions of the United States and the State of West Virginia, any efforts to unconstitutionally restrict these rights, and to use such legal means at its disposal to protect the right of the citizens to keep and bear arms, including through legal action, the power of appropriation of public funds, and the right to petition for redress of grievances,” according to the resolution.
“I had actually independently decided that we needed to do it this in support of the neighboring Virginia jurisdictions that have done similar resolutions in support of the Second Amendment,” Sitler said. “Of course, I’m a very strong supporter of the Second Amendment as are the three Mercer County commissioners. They had independently discussed the initiative. When I went over and talked to them and said we need to do this, they had already stated they were looking into it.”
The county commission is meeting at 5:30 p.m., Feb. 11, at the Mercer County Courthouse.
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