Potential proposals prompt concerns in Patrick County

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By Debbie Hall

With a Democratic majority in the state legislature, Patrick County Sheriff Dan Smith said he has heard concerns from many residents about changes that may be proposed to the Second Amendment.

“I’ve spoke to several sheriff’s in the area, and like me, they’ve been getting many contacts from citizens worried about their gun rights and the impact of any new changes,” Smith said.

He also shared some of his concerns in a social media post, that stated in part: “Do you want to be told that you can’t have a magazine for your hand gun that is capable of firing more than ten rounds of ammunition? Do you want to be automatically criminalized because you couldn’t afford to pay $35 for a background check if your father gives you a gun to protect yourself with from a violent, estranged husband. These are some of the proposals that have been introduced for passage.”

He noted the proposals were among a sweeping gun control package Gov. Ralph Northam introduced during a July 2019 special session of the General Assembly.

“Some of the measures proposed put me at odds with my oath,” he said. “Anyone who knows me knows my deep support and appreciation for our Constitution and its Bill of Rights. My oath of office requires me, and every deputy sheriff that I appoint, to swear to support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia. It is my responsibility to see that you are not subjected to unlawful and unreasonable searches of your home by my deputies. It is my responsibility to ensure that you are not treated inhumanely while you are in custody. It is my responsibility to see that your freedom or property is not taken from you without probable cause, as the fourth amendment demands. It is also my responsibility to protect your right to keep and bear arms,” Smith wrote.

“I can assure you … that I will unequivocally be loyal to my oath of office and support the Second Amendment and the Constitution. Your right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. Overnight criminalization of someone who possesses a certain type of gun or ammunition magazine is an infringement. The issuance of a gun confiscation warrant based on hearsay without proper due process is an infringement. In addition, the confiscation proposal places law enforcement, particularly sheriff’s deputies, in grave danger because we are the ones that are most often commanded to carry out these protective orders,” Smith wrote.
He encouraged residents to write and share concerns with state legislators and Northam’s office.

Henry County Sheriff Lane Perry said he has not heard residents express concerns, he plans to wait and see which bills may be introduced or reintroduced for state legislators to consider.

“I firmly believe in the Second Amendment,” Perry said. “I enjoy shooting sports, I own guns and I believe in the Second Amendment right. Beyond that, I am waiting to see what bills” may be introduced by state legislators.

If residents do have concerns, Perry encourages them to call their respective state representatives and “professionally voice their concern.”

Martinsville Sheriff Steve Draper said that he has heard no concerns – something that may be attributed to the fact that his office handles the jail, courtroom security and other duties, while the Henry County Sheriff’s Office and the Martinsville Police Department are charged with enforcement duties.

Martinsville Police Chief Eddie Cassady said he also has not had heard any concerns.