AP Photo/Steve Helbe
Most of the 115 counties, cities, and towns in Virginia that have declared themselves Second Amendment Sanctuaries have done so via a resolution, but a couple of counties have gone further by passing an actual ordinance. Tazewell County, a beautiful and somewhat remote county (at least once you get off Interstate 81) in the Appalachian Mountains and the Cumberland Plateau, is full of Second Amendment supporters, and the county supervisors not only declared the county a sanctuary on December 3rd, it passed an ordinance “ordering” the militia in an attempt to prevent any lawfully owned firearms from being seized.
Since then, the county’s been fielding questions from residents, reporters, and others who are curious about what exactly that means. According to Southwest Virginia Today, the county’s been giving a “stock answer.”
That answer is “On Dec. 3rd, 2019, our Board of Supervisors chose to exercise some of its rights under the Virginia Constitution to order or regulate militia. By insuring that our residents have the opportunity (1) to possess certain types of firearms, (2) to educate themselves on their use, (3) to learn common military practices, and (4) to learn basic survival skills, we hope to preserve a group of residents who could form a militia, were such a body needed. Without these most basic elements our County would not have a group of persons from whom a militia could be drawn. At the moment, however, the Board has not called any such militia to arms and prays that such moment never occurs.”
In other words, the ordering of the militia wasn’t necessarily meant to lead to thousands of residents drilling on the courthouse lawn, but to make the argument that, because virtually every law-abiding resident is a member of the county militia, they need access to the type of firearm most suited for use in defense of self and county; a semi-automatic rifle. Since SB 16 in Virginia currently is written to make continued possession of legally owned semi-automatic rifles a crime, this is an attempt to protect residents from the effects of the unconstitutional law.
Note, however, that the county reserves the right to call the militia to arms, though its statement doesn’t indicate what would trigger such a response.
As the paper in southwest Virginia points out, while Tazewell County may have been the first in the state to order the county’s militia, it likely won’t be the last.
Some counties that passed just the second amendment sanctuary bill are now considering following Tazewell County’s lead and calling for a militia. A large crowd of Wythe County residents attended its December supervisors meeting to ask for a militia to be formed and many of the speakers carried copies of the Tazewell County ordinance.
Buchanan County passed both a second amendment sanctuary and a preservation ordinance at its December meeting. That board also requested its county attorney write Governor Northam a letter demanding he resign due to his stance on gun control and abortion.
They later held a called meeting and tabled the request for the letter until new board members office take office this month. They were also asked to consider a militia ordinance this month.
The Second Amendment Sanctuary resolutions that have been passed by the vast majority of Virginia counties are the first step, not the last word in the movement. Despite tough talk from Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring, these counties don’t seem interested in backing down from their pro-Second Amendment stand.
Cam Edwards has covered the 2nd Amendment for more than 15 years as a broadcast and online journalist, as well as the co-author of "Heavy Lifting: Grow Up, Get a Job, Start a Family, and Other Manly Advice" with Jim Geraghty. He lives outside of Farmville, Virginia with his family. https://bearingarms.com/author/camedwards/