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2A or not 2A? Counties mull gun sanctuary resolutions

As of Jan. 5, Second Amendment sanctuary laws or resolutions have been passed in 25 states. Wikimedia photo As of Jan. 5, Second Amendment sanctuary laws or resolutions have been passed in 25 states. Wikimedia photo

The vigorous debate over the necessity of “Second Amendment sanctuary” resolutions has finally begun to trickle into North Carolina, and elected officials are increasingly being asked to weigh in on the controversial topic. 

The resolutions, already passed in 25 states, purport to prohibit or impede the enforcement of so-called “red flag” gun confiscation laws but are largely symbolic, carrying little actual power. 

Still, 87 of Virginia’s 95 counties have adopted some manner of sanctuary ordinance, as have 13 out of 95 Tennessee counties, including eight of nine counties bordering Western North Carolina. 

Two N.C. counties, Cherokee and Rutherford, have also followed suit, with resolutions under consideration in two others, according to the Mt. Airy News. 

A small group of local conservative activists led by county resident Eddie Cabe and supported by posters on various Facebook groups, have asked commissioners for just such a resolution, but it hasn’t appeared on any agenda — at least not yet — for a variety of reasons, commissioners told The Smoky Mountain News on Jan. 7.

“The 2A resolutions seem to be in protest to the gun control efforts of politicians in Virginia and around the country,” said Kevin Ensley, chairman of the Haywood County Board of Commissioners. “Our sheriff and state legislature have not made any actions to implement gun control laws, rules or regulations. They also seem to be strong 2A supporters. In my opinion our board will act if or when possible gun control legislation becomes an issue. If we had been a Virginia county, I’m sure we would have already done one. Until that occurs we will ‘keep our powder dry’ and remain vigilant to protect not only our 2A rights but all our God-given constitutional freedoms.”

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Ensley added that he believes all five commissioners are strong Second Amendment supporters and have supported local NRA banquets, firearm safety programs and shooting clubs in schools. 

Vice Chairman Brandon Rogers wasn’t clear in supporting a Second Amendment Sanctuary resolution in Haywood County, but was clear in his support of the Second Amendment.

“I am in full support of protecting our Second Amendment right and willing to do whatever necessary to do so,” said Rogers. “I believe in our entire Constitution and believe we need to do whatever possible to protect it and not allow our rights to be taken. It is always the law-abiding citizens that suffer when we change laws such as this and I will always lobby our legislators so they protect our constitutional rights including the Second Amendment.”

Fellow commissioner Tommy Long likewise didn’t express explicit support for a sanctuary resolution, instead saying he supports the Constitution as a whole. 

“I support our Constitution and all the amendments,” he said. “Not just one. If there is need for a local resolution to show my support for our nations guiding document I will, not in part but the whole. I have polled our states elected leaders on this particular issue. At this time no action is needed.”

Former chairman and the board’s lone Democrat, Kirk Kirkpatrick, said the issue wasn’t a county concern since there was no current state- or national-level effort to infringe on gun rights.

“The Second Amendment is of course part of the Constitution and provides a right to the people. The U.S. legislature has discussed issues regarding gun rights but has not proposed a change in this constitutional amendment. The N.C. legislature has not proposed any changes to the Second Amendment,” Kirkpatrick said. “The majority of states where a resolution has been passed are dealing with legislatures that are proposing bills that are changing, defining or limiting the meaning of the Second Amendment. I choose to govern and deal with issues that are presently affecting our citizens and this is not one of them.”

Commissioner Mark Pless echoed Kirkpatrick’s sentiments on the lack of imminent threats to gun rights.

“I understand this issue is being driven currently by the events happening in Virginia; however, last I looked I live, work and serve in Haywood County North Carolina,” said Pless. “If we were experiencing the same threat Virginia is currently facing we certainly should consider taking steps to address the right to keep and bear arms. I am not sure a resolution would be my choice in that situation.”

Pless went on to explain that a resolution would hold no actual power to prevent enforcement of current or future legislation, and that such a resolution would be “totally symbolic.”

“The Constitution of the United States is still protecting the citizens of this great country, which includes we, the citizens of Haywood County,” he said. “If I must pass a resolution to ensure that the right to keep and bear arms is protected do I really believe the Constitution? Should I then pass a resolution giving the citizens of Haywood County the freedom of religion? Or freedom of speech? Or even freedom of the press, which you are guaranteed while doing your job? I feel very strongly that the right to keep and bear arms should be defended as well as ALL the rights given us by our Constitution.”

Instead, Pless argued, there remains a superior way for North Carolinians to express their support of or opposition to the Second Amendment as it currently exists.

“I feel the best way to protect the rights given all citizens is to vote,” he said. “Vote during every election for people who will defend all of our rights, not just this one. During every election the citizens decide who protects their rights by either voting or choosing not to vote. In North Carolina’s November 2018 General Election, only 52.98 percent of votes were cast. That means 47.02 percent of votes were not entered. We should all be embarrassed. Our focus needs to be on encouraging every eligible citizen to vote, not making a statement with a resolution that holds no power.”

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