Larry Di Giovanni/News Ohio Stands United-Knox County chapter members William and Lori Vess, seated on the right side of the table, discuss their Second Amendment resolution Thursday with, from left, Knox County Commissioners Teresa Bemiller, Thom Collier, Bill Pursel, and County Administrator Jason Booth. Behind them is Sheriff David Shaffer.

Larry Di Giovanni/Mount Vernon News

Ohio Stands United-Knox County chapter members William and Lori Vess, seated on the right side of the table, discuss their Second Amendment resolution Thursday with, from left, Knox County Commissioners Teresa Bemiller, Thom Collier, Bill Pursel, and County Administrator Jason Booth. Behind them is Sheriff David Shaffer. Request this photo

 

MOUNT VERNON — Knox County Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution Thursday supporting the Second Amendment with language “to oppose any additional infringements on the rights of law-abiding citizens of Knox County, Ohio to keep and bear arms.”

Resolution passage came at the request of county residents William and Lori Vess, who represent a Second Amendment and gun rights advocacy group, Ohio Stands United-Knox County chapter. Commissioners Thom Collier, Teresa Bemiller and Bill Pursel stopped short of including at least one item the Vesses asked for consideration, which was to declare Knox a “Second Amendment sanctuary county” as some counties have done.

Collier said resolution language had been carefully vetted by county Prosecutor Chip McConville and Sheriff David Shaffer. After the resolution passed, commissioners posed for photos with the Vesses and Shaffer. Collier said he has also been to a few recent Ohio Stands United-Knox County meetings, which have been attended by more than 100 people each, he said. They have been so well attended at the local AmVets and Moose facilities that a larger meeting space is needed, Collier added.

The resolution states that Second Amendment rights are guaranteed by the Constitution and that they will oppose any infringement on those rights. Bemiller commended William and Lori Vess for how they approached commissioners on Jan. 28 and introduced the group and its objectives.

“I think it’s awesome when ordinary citizens, I guess, can interact with you guys and have that kind of good relationship,” William Vess said. “It means a lot to everybody, it does.”

Lori Vess said Thursday’s resolution passage made Knox County the 17th county to adopt Second Amendment resolutions supported by Ohio Stands United. Pursel said the county had done “a lot of homework that went behind this” surrounding other Ohio counties and how their resolutions read.

“We wanted to make sure the language was as precise as possible, without having to defend the language,” Pursel said.

The Vesses received the support of their resolution from Lisa Tharp, representing The Well Armed Woman, Utica, Ohio Chapter, who also belongs to the new Ohio Stands United-Knox County chapter, and Joe Updike, owner of Accurate Rifle Systems.

“With The Well Armed Woman, our goal is we allow women to have a way to be able to protect themselves,” Tharp said. “At my age, there is no way that I am going to be able to defend myself against someone who is several inches taller than me and much stronger than me. Firearms are the thing that give women the opportunity to have an equal playing field. I appreciate it so much, and I think the (resolution) language is perfect.”

Ohio Stands United has gained in membership following the Dayton mass shooting of Aug. 4, 2019, during which a gunman fatally shot nine people while wounding 17 others. The mass shooting followed just 13 hours after another mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, during which a gunman killed 22 people and injured 24 others using an AK-47-style assault rifle.

Since then, the Ohio Legislature has considered state laws that would consider additional gun regulations, and Gov. Mike DeWine has also supported a Senate bill that would try to decrease gun sales taking place without background checks, while also seeking to temporarily separate severely alcohol-or-drug-addicted individuals from firearms.

William Vess was asked if he is against all proposed gun regulations, such as universal background checks. He said that while some “red flag” proposals that would keep mentally ill individuals from having firearms have some elements to them that are reasonable, there are always portions of such laws that seek more restrictions than what is bearable.

“We are of the belief there are already enough gun laws in place,” he said.

Collier was asked later if resolution passage by commissioners meant he opposes universal background checks.

“We are not stating any particular stance on any law,” he offered. “We believe in the Constitution.”

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Larry Di Giovanni: 740-397-5333 or larry@mountvernonnews.com and on Twitter, @mountvernonnews

 

 

 

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