Norton City Council passes militia resolution

Mike Still • Jan 8, 2020 at 1:30 PM

NORTON — The City Council took its December Second Amendment sanctuary resolution a step further Tuesday with another measure in support of a local militia under city control.

Vice Mayor Mark Caruso, who wrote the sanctuary resolution passed on Dec. 3, read a revised version of a draft submitted before Tuesday’s meeting.

Caruso’s resolution, which passed unanimously to the applause of about 20 members of the public, affirms the council’s support of the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment and the Virginia Constitution’s Article I, Section 13 provision for the right of the state’s citizens to keep and bear arms.

Citing the Code of Virginia’s Title 44.1 and 44.4 provisions for an “unorganized militia” separate from the Army and Air National Guard and Virginia Defense Force, Caruso said the resolution would show the council’s intent not to enforce “unconstitutional firearms related laws.”

The council’s Dec. 3 resolution opposed several measures in a proposed legislative package before the Virginia General Assembly beginning Wednesday. Those bills include:

— Prohibition of firearm magazines in excess of a 10-round capacity.

— “Red-flag” prohibition of firearm possession by persons subject to court protective orders.

— Penalties for unsupervised access to firearms by minors under 18.

— Prohibition of drilling, parading or marching with any firearm, explosive, incendiary device or their components with the intent of intimidating persons or groups.

The resolution also recognizes the right of all able-bodied city residents who are law-abiding citizens to be part of the unorganized militia. It also affirms the council’s right to set up procedures to muster, regulate and set up a command structure for the unorganized militia.

During discussion before the council vote, Caruso said, “The word ‘militia’ has gotten a bad name because of militias out west and the media.” He said the unregulated militia was different because of its definition under state law.

Caruso said the militia concept also would expand from just an armed force to volunteers in emergencies or disasters with a wide range of skills such as heavy equipment operators.

Councilman Robert Fultz asked if a lawyer had looked at Caruso’s draft resolution.

City Manager Fred Ramey said a lawyer had not looked at the version Caruso read.

Councilman William Mays asked why the words “well-regulated” were not placed with “unorganized” in the resolution.

“ ‘Unorganized’ means voluntary,” Caruso said.

“But if it’s voluntary, it still falls under regulation,” Mays said.

“It’s a strange matter of semantics,” Fultz said.