The Franklin County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution Aug. 18 agreeing to not adopt any new gun laws. The county joins nearly 20 other localities in the state that have made similar pledges intended to protect Second Amendment rights.
The Virginia Citizens Defense League and its members are encouraging localities to pass the resolution to counteract new gun legislation that went into effect July 1. The new law gives localities the authority to ban guns in certain public places.
It was also the VCDL and its members that pushed for localities in the state including Franklin County to become a “Second Amendment sanctuary.”
Brien Dyer attended the Aug. 18 meeting to speak in favor of the resolution. He said the new gun law would create a patchwork of different gun laws across the state that would be difficult for responsible gun owners to follow.
“I would urge you guys strongly to vote yes,” Dyer said just before supervisors took up the issue.
Blackwater District representative Ronald Mitchell read the resolution before it was put to a vote. The resolution stated that Franklin County does not intend on infringing on the rights of its citizens and does not want to discourage travel to the county that could be inhibited with new gun laws.
“The Franklin County Board of Supervisors wishes to express its continued opposition to any law that would unconstitutionally restrict the rights of citizens of, and visitors to Franklin County to keep and bear arms,” Mitchell read from the resolution.
While the resolution was passed unanimously, Snow Creek District representative and Chairman Leland Mitchell said the resolution was non-binding. He said, while the current board has no plans to pass any gun laws, future boards could decide not to follow the resolution.
Supervisors also agreed to a second round of CARES act funding totaling $3.9 million. The funding will include another round of business grants totaling $500,000 and $1 million toward broadband internet deployment in the county.
The funds will be used to purchase six, 80-foot community poles to be placed on county property in locations around Ferrum, Rocky Mount, Boones Mill and Glade Hill. The poles will be used in addition to the eight, 150-foot towers to provide a fixed wireless broadband internet signal to residents throughout the county.
Supervisors approved an additional $960,000 to provide protective gear and breathing apparatus for firefighters in the county. The funding will be used to purchase 350 sets of the gear for firefighters.
Boone District representative Ronnie Thompson considered it an easy decision when the funds would be provided for the county through the CARES act. “That’s a no-brainer,” Thompson said. “We need to do that.”
Several Franklin County residents attended the Aug. 18 meeting to speak during the evening public comment period. Each of the 11 speakers asked that the county move the Confederate monument from the grounds of the county courthouse. Multiple residents have spoken during the board’s public comment time for the past few months on the issue of the monument.
Moriah Moore, 11, was one of several returning speakers. She questioned those that say the statue is needed to learn about history.
“I am here to say, if you depend on the monument for history then you need to follow me on my first day of middle school,” Moore said.
Several speakers were impassioned in speaking with the board, urging them to move the monument. Henry Turnage was led to tears while asking supervisors to see the monument from his perspective.
“You don’t know what it means because you have never been through it,” Turnage said. “You can’t make the connection because it didn’t happen to you. So that man up there can’t be a terrorist because he didn’t terrorize your families.”
While supervisors did not discuss the monument at the Aug. 18 meeting, Ronald Mitchell requested support from board members in the creation of a diversity and inclusion committee to help in bringing the county together.
“I think it will really help us to communicate with the Black citizens of this county,” Mitchell said.
The issue of the Confederate monument will be addressed in a referendum on this November’s ballot. Voters will be able to choose whether the monument should stay at the Franklin County Courthouse or be moved to another location.