Overflow crowd debates gun policy at Buncombe commission

Crowd at Feb. 4 Buncombe County Board of Commissioners
BACK IN THE DAY: A full crowd waits to speak about the Second Amendment at the Feb. 4, 2020 meeting of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners shortly before the coronavirus pandemic forced commissioners to change public comment to a virtual format. Photo by Daniel Walton

Per county policy, attendees weren’t permitted to bring their weapons into the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners meeting on Feb. 4. Nevertheless, plenty of firearms were in evidence. At the direction of Sheriff Quentin Miller, armed deputies set up extra security checkpoints on the first floor of county offices, a two-person sniper team watched over the entrances from the top floor of the adjacent parking deck and plainclothes officers sat in the back row of the commission chambers.

“My job is to make sure people are safe and also afford them the ability and opportunity to exercise their First Amendment rights,” Miller told Xpress about his preparations as an overflow audience filed into the building. The additional precautions were warranted, he said, because the Second Amendment was to be the main topic of conversation.

Officers with sniper rifle on Buncombe County parking deck
ON THE LOOKOUT: Officers with the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office keep an eye on the county administration building from the top of the adjacent parking deck. Photo by Daniel Walton

The crowd’s exercise of free speech lasted for nearly two hours as over 30 commenters shared their opinions on gun regulation. Most of those who spoke were in support of declaring Buncombe a “Second Amendment sanctuary” where officials would pledge not to enact or enforce laws that threaten the right to bear arms. (See “Shall not be infringed?” Feb. 5, Xpress.)

Speaker Dennis Gibson said it was important for commissioners to affirm that right due to proposed legislation at the state level, including House Bill 86, that would place stricter rules around gun ownership. “We do not have the time, the energy or the resources to lobby Raleigh to prevent those measures from happening,” he said. “What we do have is this: to address our commissioners, who are the closest representative body that most of us will ever get to.”

Supporters took diverse approaches as they pitched gun rights to the board. Sandra Ingle, who started a Second Amendment sanctuary petition with over 1,400 signatures as of the meeting’s start, said she relies on firearms to protect her family as a single mother. Jason Brodsky, founder of the Asheville Yoga and Gun Club, noted that guns can be a tool for mindfulness through “meditative marksmanship.” And Fletcher resident Bernard Carman argued that self-defense was a natural right that should not be regulated.

“There are millions of us who will not comply with further ineffective, dangerous and illegal firearm regulations, especially not confiscations via so-called red flag laws,” Carman continued. The consequences of advancing such “anti-liberty agendas,” he continued, could “not only lead this country into an all-out civil war, but also ignite World War III.”

Several attendees did back stronger gun laws, including Natalie Henry-Howell, whose son, Riley Howell, received national attention last year after being killed while confronting an active shooter at UNC Charlotte. “This isn’t about responsible gun owners doing the right thing, who are mentally sound and are good citizens,” she explained, as she advocated for expanded background checks and magazine size restrictions. “We’re talking about something that we could do to prevent this from happening to another family.”

The commissioners did not weigh in on the discussion following public comment, which board Chair Brownie Newman said was typical practice. “Don’t take the fact that commissioners haven’t responded — and they aren’t going to respond right now — as an indication that we’re not interested in what you’re saying,” he added.


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About Daniel Walton
Daniel Walton is the former news editor of Mountain Xpress. His work has also appeared in Sierra, The Guardian, and Civil Eats, among other national and regional publications. Follow me @DanielWWalton

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20 thoughts on “Overflow crowd debates gun policy at Buncombe commission

  1. Big Al

    I find the requirement for liability insurance of $100,000 prior to ownership of a firearm to be of significant interest.

    First, the deadline for purchasing insurance has already passed, so if you own a firearm and are not insured, then you are in violation on the day this bill passes.

    Second, requiring insurance places a person’s gun ownership on public record, which was not the case for non-handguns prior to this law.

    History shows us that the first step to confiscation of firearms is identification of who owns them. Even if a weapon was purchased from another private owner without the documentation that accompanies a commercial purchase, that firearm is now documented and can more easily be confiscated.

    Apparently, the Republican-led NC Assembly has just joined the gun control movement.

    • Lulz

      LOL violation of the law? Say isn’t releasing criminal illegals back onto the streets a violation of the law? See how it works? if those in government won’t play by the rules, don’t expect others to. You can’t have different standards for different classes. It’s either one law applied to everyone equally or no law. And the government is all over the place meting out punishments, ignoring due process, illegal seizures, and unjust fines. In the eyes of these overeager prosecutors, people are assumed guilty now and have to prove their innocence. And the less resources you have, the less likely you’ll succeed in doing it. Not how it’s supposed to be. Now apply that to red flag laws where anyone can accuse you and next thing you know you’re in jail and you are screwed. Good luck after that.

      As far as insurance requirements, since these days we live in the era of speech being used a s a reason to find offense in everything, will will be putting insurance on that as well?

      The picture up above with the cops is indicative of a government that isn’t for and by the people. It’s one that looks at citizens with suspicion . Wonder if they viewed Wanda Greene the same way when she was stealing money left and right? Probably not.

  2. Peter Robbins

    On the basis of that group photo, I’d hate to see what a badly regulated militia looks like.

    • Lulz

      Oh look, another Trump supporter. Not. Ain’t it funny, Trump is the supposed racist but you show who the real ones are. So a group of white people are somehow what?

      Mountain Xpress, your continued allowance of overt racism against whites is getting stale.

      • Jim

        When I went to the Sheriff candidate forum at the church on Hill St. white folks weren’t allowed to ask questions, apparently “progressives” have to be racist to prove they’re not racist.

      • Jason W

        I’m just saying that from the picture it appears like the only people interested in making Buncombe County a “Sanctuary for the 2nd Amendment” are a group of people who, at quick glance, seem to be from European descent. Thus further reinforcing the stereotype of the privileged pigmentally-challenged majority who scream their “rights are being denied” if they can’t own their favorite GI Joe inspired military weapon/toy for “home defense.”
        In my opinion, a shotgun is a much better deterrent for all those evil-doers who are breaking into your homes at night. Bird, bird, buck!
        Anyway, I suppose the rest of the population, who apparently didn’t attend this meeting, might rather hope it was made a sanctuary for the 4th Amendment, or maybe a just a sanctuary where people can live in peace, free from harassment and intimidation. Where paranoid people don’t feel the need to pack their Glock when they run down to the local Ingles.

        • Jim

          It doesn’t really matter that the Demunists think “no one needs an AR15”, the US vs Miller Supreme Court decision upheld the restriction on a short barrel shotgun because it wasn’t a weapon used by the military and applicable to a “well regulated militia”, unlike an AR15, even the left’s talking point is they are a weapon of war. The founders just threw off tyranny using the “weapon of war” of the time, they surely didn’t intend to now exclude them from the 2nd Amendment the guaranteed the pre-existing right to own them. Also in Heller vs DC, the court affirmed the 2nd Amendment was a personal right, just like the 1st, not a collective right, only belonging to a “well regulated militia”, anyone that claims different is lying or ignorant. Personally, I don’t carry a Glock, but I am glad the congregant in Texas that stopped mass murder at his church was carry his Sig.

      • Did you know that various gun regulations were born from “racist” Jim Crow laws? Based upon your posted comment, I’m not certain you care.

        Playing the obsolete “racist” card is getting very old. Further, it now makes people seem overtly ignorant who do so.

        Rather than resorting to name calling, ad hominem attacks, or “sniping” (as it’s been called here in the past by an Xpress writer), how about considering the option of actually addressing the various factual points these “racist white people” (as you call them) have raised about the issue?

        My question is why the managers of this Xpress website allow such name calling and ad hominem attacks to exist and remain here. I’ve been “called out” for so called “soap boxing”, but I guess it’s OK to blatantly call people “racist” because they are white. Seems hypocritical to me.

      • Logic professor

        A white person being critical of other white people is not racism, it’s criticism.

        • Are you people who throw around the ignorant “racist” claims trying to aggravate the so called “race war” in the same manner as the F-MSM has been doing? Because that’s precisely what it sounds like to the rest of us who elect to treat ALL individuals as equals, regardless of ethnicity or skin color.

          You who do so exemplify individuals who really don’t want to intelligently discuss issues, but rather those who merely want to continue the great deceptive political divide between so called “liberalism” & “conservatism”, which has been falsely perpetuated in order to divide people into phony ideologies.

          Consider dropping all the prejudice and name calling and stick to the issues.

  3. Jim

    “No one wants to take your guns”, the lie the Demunists always claim, yet when Virginia fell to them that was the first thing they proposed! Good luck trying to disarm Americans, you will need plenty of it.

  4. Jim

    A sniper team because people want to advocate for the rights the Sheriff took an oath to protect? Anyone see a problem here?

  5. Enlightened Enigma

    have you people discovered Mark Robinson for Lt Gov in NC ? he appeals to both sides ! leading in the polls.

    • YUP! 8-) I certainly plan on supporting Mark Robinson for NC Lt. Gov. Also, SJ Fox for Buncombe County Sheriff, as he vows to never violate our Natural Right of Self-Defense.

  6. I wonder if anyone at that TX church considers themselves “paranoid” for carrying their firearms to church… NOPE! 8-)

    I open carry at my church congregation while I’m playing piano & song leading, as well as giving a sermon… and none among our congregation perceives me as “paranoid”, rather they feel safer that several of our regulars carry.

    Imagine if anyone considered people “paranoid” for having fire extinguishers in their homes, businesses, and meeting places!

    “You’re so paranoid! What are you afraid of, a fire breaking out?”

    Yet, that’s about how crazy such drivel sounds to those of us who take our Natural Right to Self-Defense seriously and merely desire to help protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our neighbors. However, Democrats and F-MSM routinely make us out to be “gun nuts”. No, the so called “gun nuts” are those who use deceit to accomplish their Collectivist political desires which have proven time and agin to be dangerous to the otherwise wellbeing of our society.

    Gun regulations ONLY regulate law abiding citizens and are ALMOST ALWAYS ineffective at reducing violence because no regulation can prevent violent criminals from obtaining nearly any weapon they desire — in the precise same way the failed “War on Drugs” cannot prevent anyone from obtaining nearly any drug they desire on the black market.

    We liberty minded people of WNC are willing to have honest dialog about this matter in the spirit of truth. However, we’re NOT willing to comply with any further gun regulations — PERIOD!


    bernard baruch carman
    ∞ ∞ ∞

    • Logic professor

      A firearm’s necessity is akin to that of a fire extinguisher: it is not needed until it is needed.
      That’s a false equivalence. A fire extinguisher’s purpose is to put out fires, a firearm’s purpose is to shoot things. Yes, in a broad sense they can be used to protect, however a firearm can also be used to threaten, attack or kill.

      • No, Logic Professor, it’s not a false equivalence, and your supposition is simply not logical. Firstly, fire extinguishers are not used to put out all fires, as some fires are intentional (like camp fires, or cook fires for example).

        Here are the facts, whether or not you elect to agree with them:

        • Fire extinguishers are used to save lives by putting out unintended fires, thus stopping the threat to life and property.

        • Guns carried open or concealed are used to save lives by stopping a violent assailant, thus stopping the threat to life and property.

        Considering these facts my statement is proven true: A firearm’s necessity is akin to that of a fire extinguisher: it is not needed until it is needed.

        These simple concepts presented about fire extinguishers refute the foolish notion that people who carry guns are “paranoid”, which was the entire point of my comment. I was addressing someone else’s comment about being “paranoid” for carrying a gun to the grocery store.

        No one among that TX church congregation considers one another “paranoid” for carrying guns — only those among the ignorant masses who have been horribly indoctrinated into false concepts via deceitful politicians and the F-MSM believe this way.

        Gun regulations only regulate law abiding citizens. Violent criminals understand these facts, and is why the more gun regulations there are against common people being armed, the greater chances there are of criminals carrying out heinous violence before being stopped.

        The recent church shooting again confirms this to be true, yet high profile Democrats like Biden (among most all others) deliberately ignore this fact while they continue to pass bad laws which endanger the lives of all Americans.

        So basically, the entire 2A Sanctuary concept is merely a response to all those — mostly Democrats — who believe they can just continue to make any bad law they want to and the people are going to just follow along like lemmings.

        We are here to say NO! We are done with all these foolish “arguments”. We have stated the facts over and over, yet gun grabbing Democrats (and some Republicans) continue to blatantly lie to the masses about guns regardless how many times they have been corrected and refuted.

        We are not going to obey any more *bad gun laws* — all those which violate our *Natural Right to Self-Defense*.

        Therefore, all these gun grabbers will have to murder millions of peaceful Americans who have no history of violence whatsoever in order to accomplish their Collectivist political goals… and of course, chances are by doing so they will have ignited a new civil war. Great plan — NOT!

  7. Natural Right to Self-Defense FACTS

    Ineffectiveness, Dangerousness & Deceit of Gun Regulations

    • No gun regulation will ever serve to minimize violence. Rather, nearly every gun regulation serves to maximize violence by only regulating law-abiding citizens — especially Helpless Victim Zones (aka: “Gun Free Zones”) which cause peaceful people to be disarmed and therefore become easy prey for violent non-law-abiding criminals.

    • Gun regulations only serve to regulate individuals who obey the rule of law. Violent criminals do not obey the rule of law, yet in spite of this blatantly obvious truth, ignorant and/or dishonest public servants — now, even Presidential candidates — disregard this fact while advancing continued ineffective and dangerous legislation.

    • Using deceptive fear mongering tactics which have been widely embraced and disseminated by the mainstream media, anti-gun public servants and candidates continue to routinely advance blatant deceit regarding firearms — for example likening semi-automatic rifles, which function no differently from century-old hunting rifles, as “assault weapons”, giving the masses false data upon which to base public opinion. The very phrase “assault weapon” is deceitful, as common knowledge dictates that weapons are used for both offensive and defensive actions.

    • No firearm regulation can ever prevent a non-law-abiding violent individual from initiating aggression against law-abiding citizens; therefore, regulating firearms or their magazines in any way only prevents peaceful people from protecting ourselves, our loved ones, and our neighbors from such violent individuals. Those who erroneously disagree with this fact need to consider the failed and destructive “War on Drugs”, which has never prevented access to any drug on the black market.  Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) has much truthful information regarding this subject.

    • BOTTOM LINE: “Reasonable” or “common sense” gun regulations do not exist — they are nearly all ineffective and dangerous.

    Legal Duty of Public Servants Toward Healthy Societal Relationship

    • Bureaucrats and Law Enforcement Officers advancing firearm regulations — especially confiscations of any kind — violate the oath of office each one takes to defend the US Constitution, and by doing so they disqualify their official and legal authority.

    • Creating more ineffective & dangerous firearm regulations will serve to further aggravate the relationship between peaceful American citizens and law enforcement, because LEOs will be ordered to also violate their oath of office as well as the Natural Rights of their own countrymen, further pitting the people against LEOs — in like manner as has been done via the failed and destructive “War on Drugs”, as previously noted.

    • It’s the duty of American citizens and LEOs to resist and disobey officials who have so violated their just authority which was granted by the People. These public servants have not been held accountable for such legal violations which begs the question, “If there is no penalty for public servants who violate their oath of office, what’s the point of taking the oath to begin with?”

    Potential Dire Consequences of Natural Right to Self-Defense Violations / Usurpations

    • Our Natural Rights are rooted in Natural Law and originate from our Creator (Nature, or Nature’s God) NOT the US Constitution — the US Constitution is merely a guarantor of our Natural Rights and a legal framework by which to limit the STATE, NOT the People.

    • Natural Rights as derived from Natural Law are not negotiable via any so called “democratic” (majority rules) process. No collective of individuals can justly violate or usurp Natural Rights. This principle was so important to the American founders that they installed into the nation’s law various anti-democratic mechanisms, however, the masses have little to no clue what constitutes a Natural Right — it appears that the overwhelming majority among the masses erroneously believe that so called “rights” originate from the STATE.

    • The altering or removal of the Second Amendment of the US Constitution in no way alienates from us our individual Natural Right to Self-Defense, which always stands regardless of corrupt & unjust legislation. Therefore, regardless of legislators’s actions at the local, State, or Federal levels of government, many Americans consider ALL Counties as perpetually being Second Amendment sanctuaries, and there are millions of us who WILL NOT comply with further ineffective, dangerous, and illegal firearm regulations — especially not confiscations via so called “Red Flag Laws”.

    • There are also certainly plenty of LEOs who will refuse to carry out such anti-liberty actions identical to that of the British Empire of the 18th century whose such actions ignited the American Revolution, the National Socialist German Workers’ Party which led to WW2, and so many other totalitarian empires which resulted in massive destruction of life among the working class.

    • Public servants who continue to advance such anti-liberty agendas against our Natural Right to Self-Defense are not considering the very potential dire consequences of such actions, which could easily not only lead this country into an all out civil war, but also ignite WW3.

    • To understand all this better it’s paramount to consider the math: If only 0.1% of the American population refuses to submit to any kind of gun confiscation legislation, those who so insist on such disarmament via force of the STATE must realize that they will have to murder 300,000 Americans who have never had a history of violence. If that number is anywhere from 1% ~ 10%, they will have to murder anywhere from 3.3 ~ 10 million Americans to achieve their political goal of disarming the people.

    • Therefore, logic and reason dictates that not one single individual arguing for “gun bans” or “gun registration” is offering any actions that would actually reduce gun violence — ALL such actions can only greatly increase violence, and further widen divisions between civilians and LEOs which have been born out of ignorance, hatred, and even so called “racism” (as many Neo-Amerikan gun regulations originate within Jim Crow laws). It is an outrageous fraud to claim to be “against gun violence” when the actual position being taken is to be willing to murder millions of innocent and otherwise peaceful Americans to obtain a political goal.

    Personal Notes

    • A firearm’s necessity is akin to that of a fire extinguisher: it is not needed until it is needed. History dictates that every so often BOTH are very much needed. Some call people who carry a firearm “paranoid”. Imagine if anyone considered people “paranoid” for having fire extinguishers in their homes, businesses, and meeting places — “You’re so paranoid! What are you afraid of, a fire breaking out?” Yet, that’s about how crazy such drivel sounds to those of us who take our Natural Right to Self-Defense seriously and merely desire to help protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our neighbors.

    • I have no history of violence, yet because I am willing to stand up against STATE tyranny (of which I have a unique personal experience here in the so called “Progressive”, aka: Collectivist, city of Asheville, NC), I have been called “violent” even by some who apparently remain ignorant to the fact that “violence” is only justly attributed to an aggressor — not one who is defending oneself, in which case it’s called “self-defense”.

    • We the People of not just Buncombe County, but all of WNC must unite together over Natural Rights principles, and demand justice accordingly from our public servants whose sworn duty is to protect rather than violate our Natural Rights, and we draw a proverbial line in the sand which reads: MOLON LABE!

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