Council strengthens 2A support

Published 9:42 pm Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Gun rights supporters were vocal in Suffolk City Council’s final meeting of 2019 that the Constitutional City resolution it passed was neither good enough nor strong enough.

On Wednesday, council presented an amended resolution that more strongly affirms the city’s commitment to the Second Amendment and passed it by a 7-0 vote, with Mayor Linda T. Johnson absent. Suffolk is now one of 131 localities across Virginia whose governments supported a resolution affirming their support for the Second Amendment.

People in the council chambers applauded, with some shouting “Yeah,” following the vote. Speakers during the public comment expressed support for the council’s amended resolution.

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The amended resolution adds a paragraph that says the following:

“Whereas the City Council of the City of Suffolk, VA wishes to express its deep and abiding commitment to protecting all Constitutional rights of the citizens of Suffolk and stands opposed to any law, regulation or other act that would unconstitutionally infringe on the Rights of citizens, including but not limited to the Second Amendment.”

It also makes changes in other parts of the resolution.

In the original resolution, one paragraph read that the “City of Suffolk shall not administer or enforce any law that is adjudicated by an appropriate Court to violate either the U.S. Constitution or Virginia Constitution.”

That paragraph has been changed to instead read that the “City of Suffolk shall not administer or enforce any law that violates either the U.S. Constitution or Virginia Constitution.”

The next paragraph was also amended to say that, instead of saying that “the City Council fully supports both the U.S. and Virginia Constitutions and the rule of law,” it now reads that “the City Council of the City of Suffolk will uphold both the U.S. and Virginia Constitutions and the rule of law.”

The city clerk will forward the amended copy of the resolution to the city’s elected representatives in the General Assembly.

Speaking prior to the vote, Councilman Roger Fawcett, who made the motion to approve the amended resolution, reiterated statements he made at the Dec. 18 council meeting, noting he supports the Second Amendment and all other constitutional amendments.

Councilman Mike Duman thanked Mayor Johnson for “taking the initiative to add this amendment for consideration to the agenda.” He said residents’ concerns have been real, and he said they have been “manifested by actions that set a stage for further government overreach.”

“I want to commend the tenacity of those individuals, many of whom are here this evening, who have expressed their concerns and pleaded your case. We’ve heard the angst in your voice and the passion in your hearts. Your persistence has prevailed.”

At the Dec. 18 City Council meeting, the original Constitutional City resolution passed 7-0, with Duman absent because he was out of the country on a long-planned vacation.

However, a number of people who spoke following that vote were angry with a resolution they said did nothing to protect their Second Amendment rights and that they were not able to see prior to the vote.

City Manager Patrick Roberts made sure that wasn’t the case Wednesday, approaching a group of gun rights supporters in chambers before the meeting to give them a box of more than 100 copies of the proposed, amended resolution and then saying it would be discussed during the meeting.

Nearly 50 people had signed up to speak during the non-agenda portion of the meeting, the vast majority of them about gun rights and the Second Amendment. However, some left prior to that.

Council chambers filled to near capacity more than 30 minutes prior to the start of the regular meeting that began at 7 p.m., with chairs once again set up in the corridor of City Hall.

Dozens were also in attendance for a public hearing on the Nansemond Parkway intersection improvements project.