Governor Ralph Northam and the newly elected Democratic majority in the General Assembly have started pre-filing bills and making public statements regarding their desire to restrict in multiple ways the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners in Virginia.

These actions and statements have sent shockwaves across the Commonwealth, stirring up opposition and angst toward politicians in Richmond. The governor and Democratic leaders appear to be either political opportunists or tone deaf on this issue, with this immediate affront to gun owners taking us quickly down a very dangerous road of division towards anarchy.

The governor has chosen to ignore the Virginia Way of pursuing civility and discourse; instead choosing to push a political agenda that reflects the values of New York and not Virginia. The continued promotion of his anti-gun agenda has created a stir, especially in Culpeper.

On Dec. 3, the Culpeper County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution declaring us a Second Amendment Constitutional County. This action was followed by Culpeper County Sheriff Scott Jenkins publicly declaring that he would deputize thousands if the General Assembly moved to restrict Virginia residents’ Second Amendment rights.

The sheriff’s sentiments should be considered a modern day “shot heard around the world,” as news of his plans was broadcast to news outlets internationally. State delegates Michael Webert and Nick Freitas, each representing parts of Culpeper County, as well as 17th District Senator Bryce Reeves have each pledged unwavering support for the Second Amendment movement.

The people of Culpeper are not strangers to adversity or fighting a government of despots. From the very beginning of the American War for Independence, Culpeper was at the forefront of revolution.

The Culpeper Minutemen were formed on July 17, 1775, in a district created by the Third Virginia Convention. This district consisted of the Orange, Fauquier and Culpeper counties. In September of that year, 200 men were recruited for four companies of 50 men from Culpeper and Fauquier, with an additional 100 men for two companies from Orange. By order of the District Committee of Safety, the Culpeper Minutemen met under a large oak tree in an area known as Clayton’s Old Field, currently part of Yowell Meadow Park in Culpeper.

In 1860, the Culpeper Minutemen were formed again under the same oak tree where the 1775 Minutemen had organized. They also carried the same rattlesnake flag. The unit became part of Company B, 13th Virginia Infantry and served the commonwealth during the Civil War.

Given our history, it should come as no surprise that Culpeper is the epicenter of resistance during Virginia’s most tremulous time since the war between the states. If Richmond moves against lawful gun owners with gun confiscation, gun registration, restrictions on types of firearms and magazine size, there will be no peace in Virginia.

The General Assembly wants to restrict and remove the firearms we use for personal protection in our homes, in our cars and on our person. The General Assembly might as well come to our doors carrying a tinderbox in one hand, gasoline in the other. They are threatening to start a fire which is both unnecessary and provoking.

I pray cooler heads prevail, but the governor, voters in Northern Virginia and the Democratic majority seem dead-set on recreating Virginia in their image.

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Jon Russell is serving his second term on the Culpeper Town Council, and is past chair of the Culpeper County Republican Committee.

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