Two members of a Virginia city council were triggered by a fellow member’s decision to wear an AR-15 into a public meeting this week as a show of support for the Second Amendment.
Portsmouth Councilman Nathan Clark showed up to city hall Tuesday night with a semiautomatic rifle strapped across his body — immediately drawing shock and criticism from several of those also present.
Some attendees, including those on the council, expressed their concern through internal emails obtained by the Virginian-Pilot in wake of the incident.
“It was a disgrace, disheartening and embarrassing,” Vice Mayor Lisa Lucas-Burke wrote in a note to fellow local politicians on Thursday.
“Most of us were blindsided by the display.”
Gun rights were at the center of the Tuesday city council meeting, and Clark told WTKR “no one appeared intimidated” by his weapon. The hall had been packed that day with hundreds of advocates determined to convince council members to declare Portsmouth a “Second Amendment Constitutional City.”
The controversial measure, aimed to deter gun control efforts in the state, passed by one vote, according to the newspaper.
A day after the meeting, Councilman Shannon Glover requested an apology from Clark for the move, which also drew some backlash on social media.
Fred Guttenberg, who has become a fierce advocate for gun safety after his daughter was killed during the 2018 Parkland shooting, slammed Clark and told him he should resign.
“My daughter did not know someone carrying an AR 15 would kill her,” he wrote. “Citizens you represent should not be forced to accept (your) engaging in open intimidation with your AR 15.”
Clark also drew support from pro-gun advocates as well as a defense from fellow council member Bill Moody.
“I do not believe that Councilman Clark needs to apologize for exercising his right as a law enforcement officer to carry his weapon to a public meeting,” he wrote.
“I can appreciate liberals’ knee jerk reactions but if they have a problem with the law they should use the system they now control and change it.”
Both the Virginia House and Senate were taken by the Democrats in the most recent midterm elections, prompting gun owners across the state to worry their right to bear arms could be infringed upon. President Trump took to Twitter to further stoke those fears Tuesday evening and encouraged republicans to vote in the upcoming presidential election.
“Your 2nd Amendment is under very serious attack in the Great Commonwealth of Virginia,” he said.
“That’s what happens when you vote for Democrats, they will take your guns away. Republicans will win Virginia in 2020. Thank you Dems!”
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