Members of the Chase City Town Council moved their first meeting of the year to the Estes Community Center on Monday night to accommodate the large crowd of citizens who came out to support a request to Council to naming Chase City as a Second Amendment Sanctuary.
Last month, the Mecklenburg County Board of Supervisors joined the growing list of Virginia localities to adopt the designation.
The request did not appear on the agenda for the meeting but was included as part of the citizens recognition segment of the meeting.
Brandon Estes spoke first for the citizens, telling members of Council that they “live here and love this country because we can live here freely and make decisions on how we want to live our lives, if it doesn't hurt anyone else. He added that the Second Amendment right to own firearms was part of the “natural law” so citizens could protect themselves from foreign threats or an out of control government. He suggested that lawmakers in Richmond are either unaware of why the amendment exists or are not thinking of the citizens rights.
“They are not working in our best interests,” said Estes. “Unarmed people are easy people to control.”
Henry Davis told Council that the effort to limit citizens access to guns is part of an effort “trying to do away with the values we have. He added that “I stand here in front of the board and ask each of you to take a stand as our country and sheriff did. Tell Richmond they can make the rules in some areas but no this one. I’m asking Chase City to become a Second Amendment Sanctuary. Either we have a Bill of Rights or we don’t.”
Mayor Eddie Bratton addressed the large crowd, asking if most of the citizens were there to speak in favor of making the Town a Second Amendment Sanctuary. “I might as well tell you now that we can’t take any action on this tonight. Any action,” he said, “will be tabled until we have a change to look into this more. Right now, we don’t understand all the legal implications.”
“You don’t understand the Second Amendment,” asked Rex Bruce, a vocal supporter of the request.
“I didn’t say that,” said Mayor Bratton. “We don’t know the legal ramifications and we aren’t going to learn them tonight.” He added that Council would table any action on the proposal until members have a chance to examine all of the details, responsibilities and implications of making the change. A decision, he said, would likely come at the February meeting of Council.
Local businesswoman Angela Dickenson told Council that she had originally thought the politicians in Richmond were attacking citizens but she has now decided that they are using rural citizens as “bait” for their own fight. “They see it as a game,” she said.
“No matter what people think,” said Dickenson, “we have a good community with good people. Rural Virginia doesn’t have the issues that have in cities. The should be fixing their localities.” She added that while she does not live within Chase City, she does have a business here. Thanks to the Chase City Police Department, she said, she feels safe and does no feel she really has to have a gun on the premises. Nevertheless, she said, “I want to have that choice.”
Dickenson asked members of Council to take those points into consideration and not to but Chase City’s citizens in the middle of “a peeing war, so to speak.”
Dusty Forbes, Chase City’s Town Manager, stepped down from the stage to speak as a citizen.”
“I support the Second Amendment,” said Forbes. “I support what the Sheriff has done and what the county has done to support this.” Forbes mentioned his time serving in the military overseas. “I feel it’s a shame to come home and have someone take the right for us to protect ourselves away.”
Kathy Wilmouth, who recently moved to Chase City, was more blunt.
“The guns I own are legal. They were purchased legally with my money. I’ll be damned if Ill have anyone come and take them away from me. If they come, they better take the ammunition first,” she said.
Several other citizens also stood to offer their support for the request. No one spoke against the proposal.
Council is expected to study the issue and hand down a decision at their February meeting scheduled for the second Monday of the month at 7:00 P.M. The meeting will be held at the Estes Community Center.
Turning to new business, Council voted unanimously to adjust the cost of of dumpster-container rentals in order to eliminate ambiguous language. The new fee schedule puts the cost of container rental at $25 per month. Pickup on an 8 cubic yard container will be $25 per pickup while the charge for a 6 cubic yard container will be $20 per pickup. All out of town customers will be charged an additional 25 percent on the total bill.
Council also voted on Monday night to change the wording of rules pertaining to parking of commercial vehicles. Under the changes, it will be considered unlawful for anyone to park trucks, trailers or other vehicles rated at two tons or above with three or more axles on any town street within the town except to load or unload cargo. This includes all tractors whether or not connected to a trailer.
Each violation will carry a fine of $25. If not paid within 48 hours, a written notice will be sent announcing that the fine has risen to $50.
If unpaid after three days from the date on the letter, police officers will obtain a summons to take the violator to court. Repeated violations will result in the tractor trailer being towed at the owners expense.
The move comes to reduce or prevent congestion and hazardous traffic on residential streets and to protect residents from gaining access to their property as well as to protect the streets from damage resulting from the heavy vehicles.
Mayor Eddie Bratton discussed the needed roof repairs scheduled to be made at the town office. The mayor added that the same company can perform similar repairs needed at the Robert E. Lee Community Center but to get the work scheduled for this spring, the town should book them now. The cost of the repair is estimated at slightly under $12,000.
“It’s got to be done,” said Council member Marshall Whitaker who the motion to move forward. The motion passed unanimously.