If you’re going to be a “sanctuary county,” you might as well be a sanctuary for something constitutionally protected. Cherokee County, North Carolina is doing just that.
In a 3-2 vote on March 6, the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution calling itself a “gun sanctuary” and promising to resist any efforts by the state or federal government to enforce gun control laws, Fox News reported.
The resolution states that the county “will not authorize or appropriate government funds, resources, employees, agencies, contractors, buildings, detention centers or offices for the purpose of enforcing … laws, orders, mandates, rules or regulations that infringe on the right by the people to keep and bear arms,” according to the Charlotte Observer.
The resolution — which runs through the history of gun rights in the United States and gives the constitutional rationale for the resolution — was posted to Facebook by Commissioner C.B. McKinnon:
“It is the natural tendency of civil government to expand beyond the limits of its rightful Constitutional authority and to usurp powers which have not been given to it through the delegated consent of the governed,” the resolution states.
“Whenever the uses of government are perverted, individual sovereignty is overtly endangered or threatened, and all other means of redress are ineffective, the People may, and in fact ought to, force the reestablishment of the original constitutional limits of government.”
Commissioner Dan Eichenbaum, who wrote the resolution, also noted that the “first thing dictators do is confiscate guns.”
The Charlotte Observer noted that over two dozen counties and a handful of cities — mostly in western states — have passed similar resolutions.
Whether or not they have the force of law is debatable. Alamogordo, New Mexico passed a similar resolution, but the mayor noted it would have little effect on how the city policed firearms.
“Our police force is going to have to enforce the laws of the state of New Mexico,” Richard Boss said.
However, the movement for gun sanctuary counties has become part of a minor-key revolt in red pockets of blue states. Pacific Standard notes that “gun-sanctuary movements have arisen in at least four other states with Democratic-controlled legislatures in recent months, including Washington, Nevada, Oregon and Illinois. In those states, as in New Mexico, the ideological schism between government and local law enforcement highlights a widening gulf between the state’s rural and metropolitan populations.”
North Carolina’s legislature is controlled by the Republicans, but there is a significant dichotomy between urban areas like Charlotte and Raleigh and places like Cherokee County, North Carolina’s westernmost county with a population of just 27,000 people.
“Reaction to the resolution on social media has been overwhelmingly supportive, including some who have noted it is no different than other N.C. counties (like Mecklenburg and Wake) declaring they won’t support federal immigration agents in detaining undocumented immigrants,” the Observer noted.
And that’s the real contrast here. Yes, declaring your county a “gun sanctuary” may or may not have the effect of law. The constitutionality of such resolutions hasn’t been decided by the Supreme Court yet, and during a 2018 debate over a similar measure in Madison County, Illinois, one board member said that it “violates the principles of what … our country is founded on.”
“We’re in danger of destroying the basic fabrics of a representative democracy by saying we can decide what’s constitutional or what isn’t,” Madison County board member Bruce Malone said during the debate.
There’s the irony, though: The Second Amendment is etched into the Constitution, one of the keystones of the Bill of Rights. Providing a sanctuary to those who wish to exercise said rights shouldn’t be controversial. Meanwhile, when it comes to so-called sanctuary cities or counties, we’re expected to view resistance to federal law as if it’s some sort of act of bravery, since standing up for people in this country illegally — especially those who have allegedly committed crimes or are on federal detainer — is an act of selfless moral fortitude.
Even if these resolutions are symbolic, perhaps they’ll draw attention to just how backward our thinking is on this issue.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.