Travis Hackworth signing resolution

Tazewell County Board of Supervisors Chairman Travis Hackworth signs resolutions declaring the county a Second Amendment sanctuary on Dec. 3, 2019.

TAZEWELL, Va. — The passage of Second Amendment sanctuary resolutions, which is part of the reason for the “Vexit” movement, is also related to a “militia” item on tonight’s agenda of the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors.

The board unanimously approved a resolution in December, joining most counties in the state to declare the sanctuary as a way to express support for Second Amendment rights in the face of new gun laws.

Those laws, championed by Gov. Ralph Northam and given a chance to pass with Democrats now controlling both the House and the Senate, prompted the sanctuary movement.

Part of Tazewell County’s resolution included the provision that the Constitution of Virginia is “substantively equal to the Second Amendment, wherein the right to regulate the arms is placed upon the locality that orders the militia.”

The county has been receiving money from residents for a militia.

However, County Administrator Eric Young said the county is not forming a militia and is unlikely to do so.

“Hopefully none of us will see such a day,” he said, because if the county formed a militia it would most likely be used when the “government has failed to repel a foreign invasion or the government needs men and women at arms to protect some critical infrastructure or harass the invading enemy.”

But a group of residents has been meeting related to the formation of a militia.

“The ‘militia’ groups which have been having meetings in the county are grassroots and not affiliated with or supported by the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors,” Young said. “However, as stated in our December 3, 2019 resolution, our board wants to maintain an environment where such organizations can meet on their own accord: protecting the citizens’ rights to peacefully assemble and discuss whatever they want and to keep and bear arms.”

Young said county leaders “will debate what to do with the donations given to the county for a militia. I will recommend sending them to the organizations mentioned in the December 3rd Resolution, JROTC, Concealed Weapons Training Classes given by the Sheriff, and Boys/Girls Scouts.”

In the meantime, some gun control legislation is advancing in Richmond.

Both the House and Senate have passed some of Northam’s proposed gun control measures, and will try to come up with a plan both can agree on.

Measures already supported by both chambers include limiting handgun purchases to once a month; universal background checks on gun purchases; and a red flag bill that would allow authorities to temporarily take guns away from anyone deemed to be dangerous to themselves or others.

But two other initiatives, one to ban assault weapons and the other to make it a felony to “recklessly” leave a loaded, unsecured firearm in a way that endangers a minor, may not have the support to pass.

Del. James W. “Will” Morefield, R-Tazewell County, is adamantly opposed to any of the gun laws.

“I have voted against all of the gun control measures this session and in the past,” he said. “I am proud to have one of the strongest records in support of our constitutional right to bear arms according to the NRA and the Virginia Civil Defense League. It is extremely discouraging and frankly just saddening to witness the adoption of proposals that clearly infringe on our freedom.”

Morefield pointed to the red flag proposals that could lead to law abiding citizens having their firearms seized to potentially charging a parent if a firearm is in the presence of a minor.

“This could even apply if a minor were using a firearm to hunt,” he said. “Just imagine how many parents teach their children to hunt and now there is a possibility a parent could be charged depending on how a local prosecutor interpreted the law.”

Gun rights are just one of many issues, he said. 

Proposals that rollback abortion regulations to allow for an expanded list of individuals to perform abortions other than a physician is another example, he said. “It is unthinkable that we are considering proposals that make it easier to abort an innocent life.”

Morefield said that he is hopeful “a few Democrats will vote with the Republicans, but this will not be the case on all issues.”

“It is encouraging that some Democrats in the Senate are already siding with Republicans to block some of the gun control proposals,” he said. “Once the bills are communicated (on crossover day Feb. 11) we will then hold a hearing for the other chamber’s bills. If a bill passes the House and Senate then it will go to the Governor for his signature. He will then decides to veto the bill or sign it into law. “

Morefield said the next several days will be “incredibly intense and we will make every effort to fight, but ultimately we just do not have the votes to overcome many of the bills being proposed. If someone wants to make a difference, I encourage as many people as possible to vote in the next statewide election. We must increase voter turnout and I anticipate that it will in the next election.”

— Contact Charles Boothe at

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