More than 100 concerned citizens gathered Saturday at the Franklin County Recreation Park in support of Second Amendment rights and developing a county militia.
The militia muster, organized by Aaron Hodges, was a peaceful rally attended by community volunteers — many of them armed with rifles to show support — who say they are ready to preserve tranquility, peace and civil order in the event full organization of the militia is required to defend the rights and liberties of the citizens of Franklin County.
“We are witnessing our country crumble before our very eyes,” Hodges said. “We are under attack from a tyrannical, over-regulated government. Our God-given rights are being eroded.”
Hodges urged the crowd to vote and to band together to protect themselves and their neighbors.
“We cannot stand by any longer,” he said. “We will train and fight for a better future. They (the government) has made it clear they are going to make it much worse. They are taking your properties, your children’s minds and now are trying to take away your right to self-defense – taking your guns without due process under the lie of public protection. The time to talk about it is over, the time to be about it has begun.”
Several speakers were lined up for the event, including Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, who said liberty and gun ownership go hand-in-hand.
“Why would they want to take away guns from people who don’t commit crime?” Van Cleave asked. “They could take away all our guns and crime would not go down, because we’re not the problem. Gun control is not about crime. It’s about control.”
“We’re here to preserve a way of life, not just the right to keep and bear arms,” Pastor Bill Pagans said. Representatives of the armed militia recently spoke with the county board of supervisors asking for their support in forming the militia. Hardy resident Jim Hampton asked board members to join them in the movement.
The county militia, according to Hampton, would meet each month and provide training for individuals as needed. He asked that supervisors openly support the militia by recognizing it as the county’s official militia.
While the supervisors have not made a formal decision regarding the militia, Blue Ridge District representative Tim Tatum showed support for it and said he wants the county to assure that it is done right and within the law.
Tatum said the militia’s goal could not only be to protect the community from “tyrannical government,” but also be a resource for the county during natural disasters such as flooding or a tornado.
“I think this is an opportunity that we as a county have to broaden our overall service to our community and I applaud these men and women that have taken their time to commit to this,” Tatum said during a recent board meeting. In addition to Franklin and Bedford counties, several others in the region, including Campbell, Floyd, Amherst and Tazewell counties, have heard similar requests. So far, only Tazewell County has officially recognized its militia.
For more information, contact Concerned Citizens of Franklin County at email@example.com.