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Macon passes a Second Amendment resolution of sorts

Macon County commissioners Paul Higdon (left) and Karl Gillespie confer during a meeting March 10. Lilly Knoepp photo Macon County commissioners Paul Higdon (left) and Karl Gillespie confer during a meeting March 10. Lilly Knoepp photo

Since the beginning of the year, the Second Amendment sanctuary movement has swept through North Carolina, with the majority of counties passing resolutions in opposition to any potential measures that might infringe upon the right to bear arms. 

On March 10, Macon County became the most recent Western North Carolina county to vote on the issue, after citizens packed the Macon County commission meeting for the third month in a row.

But the process hasn’t gone as smoothly in Macon County as it has in other jurisdictions. Around the beginning of the year, Macon County resident Donnie Holden emerged as the leader of a group that wanted commissioners to pass such a resolution. They told him to draft one. 

What he brought back wasn’t quite acceptable to some commissioners or to Macon County Attorney Chester Jones. 

“With all due respect to Donnie Holden, I believe there are potential issues under that ordinance,” Jones said. 

Titled “Resolution Declaring Macon County, North Carolina a Second Amendment support county resolution,” Holden’s document proposes that the county not “authorize or appropriate government funds, resources, employees, agencies, contractors, buildings or offices for the purpose of enforcing … [laws] that infringe on the rights of the people to keep and bear arms.”

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Such declarations are problematic, because no one at a county level has the authority to determine which laws, exactly, “infringe” on the rights of the people. 

Jones drafted a resolution of his own on behalf of the county that wasn’t quite as forceful as Holden’s and was far more broad — similar to one adopted in Haywood County last month. 

Commissioner Paul Higdon thought Holden’s resolution at least deserved a vote. Commissioner Karl Gillespie seconded Higdon’s motion, but commissioners Ronnie Beale and Gary Shields, along with Chairman Jim Tate, voted against it. 

Once his resolution was voted down, Holden and several others in attendance walked out of the meeting. 

Beale then made a motion to consider the resolution drafted by Jones, cumbersomely titled, “Resolution fully supporting and maintaining the 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution as well as the entire United States Constitution and the laws of the United States and the entire North Carolina Constitution and the laws of the State of North Carolina which are not inconsistent therewith.”

That resolution, which didn’t contain the impactful language contained in Holden’s, was passed by a vote of four to one, with only Higdon in opposition. 

Jones’ resolution recognizes that commissioners could be sanctioned for taking “actions inconsistent with or in violation of their respective oaths of office,” reaffirms those oaths, and declares that “courts of proper jurisdiction, and not Macon County or its commissioners or its sheriff, shall resolve for the county all legal questions and issues of whether or not a given gun regulation does or does not violate the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution” per the rule of law.

It also implores elected officials in the U.S. Congress and the North Carolina General Assembly to remember their oaths of office “as they consider any law whatsoever which does or may tend to interfere with or abridge any fundamental right guaranteed by the United States Constitution or the North Carolina Constitution.” 

The resolution closes with strong encouragement to citizens to “peacefully petition the appropriate legislative bodies regarding any reasonable concerns which they may have concerning any proposed law whatsoever … [that] may interfere with or abridge a fundamental right” guaranteed by the Constitution. 

To date in Western North Carolina, only Swain and Jackson counties have yet to entertain such resolutions. 

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