Thursday, December 12, 2019

A Crowd Of 3000 Praises God And Guns Alike

"Secession means war; and war means tears and ashes and blood. It means bonds and imprisonment and perhaps even death to many in our beloved Brotherhood, who I have the confidence to believe, will die rather than disobey God by taking up arms." - Rockingham County's Church of the Brethren elder John Kline, January 1, 1861

Miles before arriving at our County Board of Supervisor hearing on whether to declare Rockingham County a Second Amendment Sanctuary, there was already stop-and-go, bumper to bumper traffic on Highway 33. Needless to say, there was standing room only in the Spotswood High School gymnasium, packed with people wearing red "Guns Save Lives" stickers. Many others undoubtedly gave up and went home for lack of any more parking available on the entire school grounds. Meanwhile vehicles were parked along the highway for a stretch of at least a mile, many with "Don't tread on me" license tags.

This was indeed a historic event, not unlike some that must have led to citizens in Virginia vowing to secede from the Union over 150 years ago.

The meeting began with a rousing recitation of the pledge of allegiance, followed by numerous spontaneous calls from the audience for someone to offer a prayer to open the hearing. After some hesitation, Board of Supervisor William Kyger led in a prayer, inviting all who wished to stand with him as he did so.

The first speaker, representing the local Republican party, strongly urged the Board to adopt the second of the two resolutions being considered, one that favored Rockingham County becoming a Second Amendment Sanctuary. The Board's original resolution simply stated, in strong terms, that the County would use every legal means necessary to preserve current gun rights in accordance with current interpretations of the Second Amendment. This would effectively have committed the County to resist the enforcement of any attempt by the state legislature to change current gun regulations, without clarifying whether they would enforce such laws if deemed constitutional by the courts.

The second speaker, representing the County Democratic party, stated that the courts alone, not a local Board of Supervisors, had the legal authority to determine whether a gun law, or any law, was constitutional, and that local officials were bound by oath to support all of the laws of the Commonwealth.

Nearly all of the speakers that followed, supported by the vast majority of the crowd in attendance, would have nothing of it. They repeatedly insisted the Board adopt the Sanctuary action that night, even though no actual copies were made available at the event.

Here are some of the memorable quotes by those who spoke:

"The right to bear arms is not simply guaranteed by the Virginia and US constitutions, but by God himself."

"The nation that rejects God will be cast into hell."

"We do not consent to tyrants from Richmond (and liberals from northern Virginia) wanting to take away our guns."

"The tyrants are coming. What they are imposing is wrong, immoral and illegal."

"The ideas of restricting gun rights comes from socialism, Communism and Marxism."

"If this be treason, make the most of it." (quoting Patrick Henry, who later apologized to the House of Burgesses for the statement)

One of the few exceptions to these sentiments was a statement made by Ruth Stoltzfus Jost, which I will also post with her permission. Not surprisingly, she was interrupted by repeated boos and counter protests from the crowd.

Listening to a rerun of the day's polemic impeachment hearings on the way to and from Spotswood added to my concern that the Union we have come to know and appreciate may be becoming unraveled at the seams.

Side note: While God was frequently referred to as being in full support of Sanctuary status for the County, I recall no mention of how Jesus might weigh in on this, which I found interesting.

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