In a post on the town’s Facebook page this week, town officials announced a special called council meeting for 7 p.m. Monday at the Wise Municipal Building on West Main Street to discuss the matter.
If the resolution passes, Wise would join Big Stone Gap as the second town in Wise County to pass a sanctuary resolution. The Wise County Board of Supervisors passed its own such resolution on Dec. 12, while the Norton City Council passed its resolution on Dec. 3.
According to the Virginia Citizens Defense League, which has advocated for localities to enact the resolutions, 87 counties, 18 towns and 10 cities in the state have passed variations of the resolutions in reaction to proposed gun control measures set for General Assembly consideration in the 2020 legislative session.
Before a General Assembly special session in July, Gov. Ralph Northam outlined an eight-point series of proposed gun control legislation including:
— Background checks on all firearms sales and transactions.
— A ban on “dangerous weapons,” including assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, bump stocks and silencers.
— Reinstatement of the state’s one-handgun purchase law, which limited purchases to one within a 30-day period.
— Reporting lost and stolen firearms to law enforcement within 24 hours.
— Extreme risk protective orders that allow law enforcement and the courts to temporarily separate a person from firearms if the person exhibits behavior that presents an immediate threat to self or others.
— Prohibiting all individuals subject to final protective orders from possessing firearms. (Existing state law now prohibits individuals subject to final protective orders of family abuse from possessing firearms.)
— Enhancing the punishment for allowing access to a loaded, unsecured firearm by a child from a Class 3 misdemeanor to a Class 6 felony and defining a child as 18 or younger instead of 14 and younger.
— Allowing localities to enact any firearms ordinances that are stricter than state law, including regulating firearms in municipal buildings, libraries and at permitted events.
Northam’s proposals were rejected by the then-Republican-controlled legislature. Several Democratic legislators have submitted bills for January’s session that would give many of his proposals a second chance at passage now that Democrats control both houses of the General Assembly.
The one-handgun-a-month law was originally passed in 1993 during Democratic Gov. L. Douglas Wilder’s administration. Former Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, who voted for the law in 1993, signed a General Assembly repeal of the law in 2012.