Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Lynchburg, Va., Now A Second Amendment Sanctuary, Ready to Defend Right to Bear Arms

While the latest trend throughout the country has been for cities and various states to proclaim themselves sanctuaries for immigrants, women seeking abortions and sexual minorities shelter from ridicule, the council in one of the most consequential Confederate strongholds during the American Civil War has just voted 5-2 to make their city a Second Amendment sanctuary.

That means Lynchburg, Virginia, which served as a Confederate transportation hub and supply depot through the war and ended up the only city not recaptured by Union forces before the end of the conflict, has adopted a resolution to defend its citizens’ rights to bear arms.

More specifically, if there is ever legislation on the state or federal level that impinges on Second Amendment guarantees, now the city of Lynchburg will have the resources, the funding and political willingness to fight against it, according to City Attorney Matthew Freedman.

“What it is, is basically a position that the city is committing to, city council commits the city to, to have the ability to appropriate funds and take court action to oppose bills that may be presented before Congress or before the General Assembly or to take court action for the same,” Freedman said in a report by WDBJ-TV, a CBS affiliate out of Roanoke.

Councilmember Jeff Helgeson said the recent vote was three years in the making, after public speakers voiced strong support for the measure during an hours-long public hearing in 2020, only for the panel back then to reject it.

“When you listen, and you have something where you’re listening to citizens, you actually listen to what they say, and you act on what they say, and they overwhelmingly said we want this. It’s time for us to act to uphold the Constitution,” Helgeson said.

Lynchburg Mayor Stephanie Reed released a statement explaining why she supported the Second Amendment sanctuary move.

“In January 202, the citizens of Lynchburg spoke loudly in support of making Lynchburg a sanctuary from anti-Second Amendment legislation that was being considered in the Virginia General Assembly at the time. While leadership in Richmond has changed, the values of our citizens have not,” said Reed’s statement, which was posted on Facebook and added the latest vote amounted to the city council “finally fulfilling the desire of our constituents to uphold our Constitutional rights and support law-abiding gun owners.”

Last November, the statement continued, “the voters of Lynchburg elected a new majority on City Council with the promise of enacting bold change — and I intend to uphold that commitment…As a lifelong conservative. I have never shied away from my principles and support for our Second Amendment.”

Though all the members of the council announced their support for the right to bear arms, they nonetheless had differing views about the resolution.

“It’s unfortunate and it sounds so shameful that the first item flipping for us by the new majority is a two-way resolution, an item that holds no legality and that we have no jurisdiction over,” said Councilmember MaryJane Dolan. “This is a disservice to our citizens and a distraction and it’s an embarrassment to our city.”

On the other hand, Councilmember Marty Misjuns said she was enthused by the resolution.

“People deserve to be able to defend themselves and for our city to honor that is just a tremendously inspiring thing to me,” she said. “It’s a bold statement from our new majority that says your rights are protected in Lynchburg.”

Lynchburg’s resolution was one of many considered in localities throughout Virginia near the end of 2019 and into 2020 in response to concerns that then-Gov. Ralph Northam and and his fellow Democrat lawmakers in the legislature would restrict gun rights. The governing boards in Appomattox and Campbell counties declared themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries in November 2019 and Amherst and Bedford counties followed suit a month later.

Recent data supplied by sanctuarycounties.com show about 61 percent of all counties in America, about 1,930 counties in over 42 states, have adopted resolutions declaring themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries.