Whitfield commissioners take a stand in favor of gun rights; stop short of making Whitfield County a Second Amendment sanctuary

Matt Hamilton/Daily Citizen-News

A gun owner engages in target practice in this file photo. Members of the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners Monday night approved a resolution supporting the Second Amendment.

Members of the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution Monday night declaring their "deep commitment to protecting Whitfield County citizens' Second Amendment rights."

But the resolution didn't name Whitfield County a Second Amendment sanctuary.

Rather, commissioners voted 4-0 to approve a resolution saying that Whitfield County will "stand as a constitutional rights protection county for Second Amendment rights by opposing any efforts, by any entity, to restrict those rights. Opposition may include any lawful means available under the U.S. Constitution and the laws of Georgia, including taking or joining legal action." Board Chairman Lynn Laughter typically votes only in the event of a tie.

After the vote, Commissioner Harold Brooker said, "This doesn't mean you can carry a gun into the courthouse."

"We are an arm of the state government and can't go against it," said Brooker after some members of the audience asked why commissioners did not pass an ordinance that would have barred the county from enforcing unconstitutional gun laws passed by the state legislature or Congress.

But after the meeting was over, Brooker said, "If we've got people going to the legislature foolish enough to change the laws, maybe we should step in. I hope they are not that foolish."

Commissioners Barry Robbins and Greg Jones said they believe commissioners made the right decision. But Jones said he could have also supported an ordinance.

County Attorney Robert Smalley said that if state or national lawmakers pass gun laws that may be unconstitutional they would be challenged in court and the judicial system would ultimately decide whether those laws are constitutional.

Whitfield County resident Tyler Martin, who started an online petition to have Whitfield County declared a Second Amendment sanctuary, said he was pleased with the commissioners' actions.

"I would liked to have seen an ordinance. I understand their reasoning," he said. "The main thing with this resolution is that it is going to send a message that we don't want any more gun control."

Whitfield County resident Abigail Cochran said she was "so grateful that the commissioners voted on this resolution tonight to protect citizens' right to bear arms and to uphold the Constitution."

She said she would have preferred that commissioners passed an ordinance.

"I would like to see an ordinance making Whitfield County a Second Amendment sanctuary," she said, adding that the resolution is a good first step.

According to The Trace, a website that covers firearms policy and firearms violence, more than 400 local governments in 20 states have declared themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries. Murray County Sole Commissioner Greg Hogan last week approved a resolution making Murray County a Second Amendment sanctuary.

Hogan's resolution said the commissioner "will not authorize or appropriate funds, resources, employees, agencies, contractors, buildings, detention centers or offices for the purpose of enforcing or assisting in the enforcement of any element of any acts, laws, orders, mandates, rules or regulations that infringe on the right of the people to keep and bear arms."

The Whitfield County resolution doesn't contain any language like that. But it does implore "the Georgia legislature and United States Congress to preserve, uphold and protect the rights of all citizens to keep and bear arms under the United States Constitution, and further implores the Georgia legislature and the United States Congress to reject any provision, law or regulation that may infringe those rights."

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