A line of around 1,200 people led from the steps of Chesapeake’s city hall, past the building and into a nearby parking lot. Bright orange “Guns SAVE Lives” stickers adorned the shirts of nearly every person standing in the line and three men stood in front of the building holding Gadsden flags printed with “Don’t Tread on Me.”
Their efforts were rewarded when Chesapeake City Council members unanimously voted to designate the city as a “Second Amendment Constitutional City” — a symbol of support for protecting gun rights. The vote occurred just before 10:30 p.m Tuesday.
After the approval, the crowd in the chamber gave the council a standing ovation with cheers, claps and whistles.
Mayor Rick West and Councilmen Robert Ike and Stephen Best were the only members who spoke before the vote and vowed to protect the citizens’ constitutional rights.
Gun rights supporters have approached more than 50 cities and counties in Virginia, asking local governments to pass resolutions stating that public funds will not be used to limit gun rights allowed by the Second Amendment.
The council took two breaks over the period which ended just after 10 p.m. and West asked speakers to keep their comments within two minutes, not applaud and refrain from repeating comments others made.
Only about 300 people were allowed into the council chambers by city fire marshals. The rest watched from a live feed in the lobby and outside of the building.
Fewer than 10 people spoke against the resolution. They asked the city to consider the rise of gun violence and safety of schools. One Chesapeake high school student said residents did not need to use AR-15 assault rifles to protect themselves, drawing some boos from the crowd.
The rest of the speakers urged the city to protect citizens’ Second Amendment rights and make a strong statement of gun rights support to the General Assembly. Many said they were afraid of becoming “felons overnight” if Senate Bill 16, which would prohibit the sale and possession of “assault firearms” and magazines, was passed.
In a post-election blitz, gun rights advocates have flooded local council and board meetings. Speakers turned out Tuesday night at meetings in Portsmouth, Newport News and James City County as well.
At least 20 Virginia localities,including Gloucester County, have passed resolutions in recent weeks saying they would oppose new state gun laws and refuse to use public funds to restrict Second Amendment rights.
The same night Gloucester approved its resolution, hundreds turned out to Virginia Beach’s City Council meeting. So many were in attendance last week in Virginia Beach thatcrowds gathered on the sidewalks outside City Hallwhen they couldn’t cram into the council’s chambers.
Barnes said she understands the concerns of those who want tighter gun control and restrictions, but believes that passing a law to restrict gun ownership is not the answer.