Rocky Mount joined a growing number of municipalities by becoming the newest “Second Amendment sanctuary” on Monday. Rocky Mount Town Council voted unanimously to pass a resolution in support of the growing movement.
The Rocky Mount Municipal Building’s meeting room was nearly filled to capacity with gun rights’ supporters advocating for the resolution at Monday night’s meeting. Several spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting.
Many of the speakers voiced their concerns that Virginia’s new Democratic majority in the House and Senate will pass new laws restricting gun rights. Rocky Mount resident Vicki Drew said the country’s Second Amendment rights needed to be protected. “It is important that we cannot just let liberal socialists disarm us or we will severely disappoint our founding fathers,” she said.
Mark Kittinger of Rocky Mount said recent legislation filed for Virginia’s 2020 General Assembly was concerning to him. The legislation, if passed, he said, would compromise Second Amendment rights.
“Firearms’ owners here in Virginia have found that we are now residents in a very unfriendly state,” Kittinger said. “We’ve been targeted for extremely heavy, anti-gun legislation.”
Following the public comments, Town Manager James Ervin read the entire resolution before being discussed for a vote. The resolution stated the town’s support of the Second Amendment and its concern for future legislation that could infringe on the rights of citizens.
“The Town of Rocky Mount will oppose any law that would unconstitutionally restrict the rights of its citizens under Article 2A of the United States Constitution wherein the rights of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms for the purposes of lawful self-defense, community defense and hunting, as protected by the United States and Virginia Constitutions would be diminished as these rights are a part of the fabric of our community, our history and our way of life,” the resolution stated.
Mayor Steve Angle asked council members if a vote on the resolution should be delayed. Other localities in Virginia have requested an opinion from Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring on the legality of becoming a Second Amendment sanctuary before voting on a resolution, he said.
Council member Jon Snead said he was ready to move forward with passing the resolution without waiting. “I’m willing to take a stand on that resolution as read,” he said before asking for a vote that was unanimously approved by council.
In other business Council approved raising the compensation for the mayor and council members. The mayor’s compensation will increase from $450 per meeting to an annual rate of $8,000 a year or approximately a $2,600 increase. Council members’ compensation will increase from $250 per meeting (or $3,000 per year) to $6,000 per year. This is the first pay raise for town council in 20 years. Council usually meets once a month as a whole.
Town council also approved plans for a parade for Goodwill Industries of the Valleys employees Dec. 13. The parade will begin at 9:30 a.m. on North Main Street at the Rocky Mount Bowling Center and end at the Goodwill facility.