When officials in Marshall County, Kentucky recently announced their plans for a Second Amendment Sanctuary ordinance, they received applause from the residents who had turned out for the meeting of the county’s fiscal court. Now, however, the proposed ordinance is being met with criticism by the county attorney and the head of a local non-profit.
According to WPSD-TV, Marshall County Attorney Jason Darnall says the ordinance doesn’t pass legal muster.
“We have no authority to declare a state statute or a federal statute null and void in Marshall County,” Darnall said. “You can put it in writing, but it has no legal effect.”
The fiscal court wants to fine any of its employees who do not follow the ordinance.
The head of the county’s fiscal court, Judge/Executive Kevin Neal says he’s ready for a legal fight over the language in the ordinance that prohibits spending any public funds to enforce unconstitutional gun laws.
“We are drawing a line in the sand to have this debate,” Neal said. “Finally, to put this to an end that we do stand behind our constitutional rights.”
Neal acknowledges the ordinance will draw a lot of controversy. He said he is prepared for a legal battle that would use taxpayer dollars.
“If it ends up in the court, if we are sued, that is a possibility,” Neal said. “We don’t expect that not to happen.”
Now the head of a local domestic violence center is speaking out against the proposed ordinance as well. In a letter to Neal, Merryman House Domestic Crisis Center Executive Director Mary Foley says she has several concerns about the proposal.
While the proposed ordinance does not appear to effect the federal firearm prohibition which arises when 1) a person is a respondent to a Domestic Violence Order (DVO) and they are or were an “intimate partner” of the petitioner, or 2) when a person pleads to or is found guilty of a “qualifying misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” (typically a DVD’s assault 4th). It would however prevent law enforcement seizing any firearms from such persons, or a court from ordering the surrender of firearms.
It would also prevent a judge from ordering any prohibition of possessing a firearm other than when the federal law applies (for example when entering an Emergency Protective or a temporary Interpersonal or Interpersonal Protective Order (EPO/IPO). This should be of utmost concern to the Commission since an EPO must be sought prior to a victim being awarded a permanent order (DVO), and the time period during which such orders are sought are the most high risk times for victims.
The ordinance strips the legal system of judicial discretion during a critical time period, and leaves the responsibility of compliance with federal law solely in the hands of the potential wrongdoer. We simply MUST NOT create barriers for local police and judges to enforce current state law. The consequences could be deadly.
I don’t think Marshall County’s ordinance is going to impact the enforcement of any existing laws, but Kentucky’s newly-elected governor has already come out in favor of a red flag law, or Extreme Risk Protection Order. If his proposal becomes law, I think that would trigger Marshall County’s ordinance outlawing the unconstitutional seizure of firearms.
The county’s Second Amendment Sanctuary Ordinance has already passed on first reading, and could be officially approved when the fiscal court holds its first meeting of 2020 on January 7th. I suspect we’ll see another crowd in attendance, and despite the objections that have been raised, it sounds like county officials are ready to move ahead in declaring Marshall County a Second Amendment Sanctuary.