Kentucky Is The New Front In The Second Amendment Sanctuary Fight

Just as nearly every county and city in Virginia have cast their votes on Second Amendment Sanctuary resolutions (with the vast majority voting to approve the resolutions), the movement is taking off in nearby Kentucky. We first reported on a couple of counties adopting resolutions the week before Christmas, but since then the number of counties considering Second Amendment Sanctuary measures has grown by leaps and bounds.

This map of the state by the Falmouth Outlook shows how quickly the movement is taking shape.

I’ve gotta say, I’m really disappointed to see that Greenup County in northeastern Kentucky appears to be opposed at the moment. It’s was the home of one of my favorite authors of all time, and I’ve spent a little time in Greenup over the last few years. It didn’t strike me as a place that would be hostile to the preservation of the Second Amendment, to be honest.

As the map shows, only three counties have declared themselves Second Amendment Sanctuaries, but it’s a little out of date. Congressman Thomas Massie was at the meeting of the Lewis County fiscal court on Monday as officials approved their own resolution.

So that brings us to at least four counties in the state, with dozens more considering the measure. As in Virginia, hundreds of gun owners and Second Amendment supporters are showing up for these meetings. What’s different about Virginia is that the Kentucky legislature is still in control of Republicans, though the state did elect a Democrat governor in November.

If there’s one gun control proposal that’s driving the movement in Kentucky, it’s “red flag” legislation, which has the backing of Governor Andy Beshear, as the Falmouth Outlook‘s Keith Smith noted in a recent editorial.

Representative Mark Hart released the following statement on Sunday evening:

“Our ability to defend our families, our homes, and our nation was so important to our founding fathers that they included it in the Bill of Rights,” Hart said. “I’m committed to preserving that right and will continue fighting to protect it.

“I don’t know a single member of the House Majority Caucus who supports this idea (of red flag laws). In fact, not only do we believe this approach violates our constitutional rights to bear arms and due process, but also there is no proof that this approach is even effective at limiting gun violence. We all know that we must do something about tragedies like the one at Marshall County High School; however, this approach certainly did nothing to stop the school shooting in Newtown, Conn. and that was one of the first states to adopt a red flag law.”

Unlike Virginia’s Second Amendment Sanctuary push, Kentucky’s appears to be more preventative than defensive in nature. That doesn’t mean it’s not ruffling feathers, however. In Marshall County, where fiscal court officials are expected to approve a Second Amendment Sanctuary Ordinance (as opposed to a resolution), some officials in the city of Benton, Kentucky are pushing back on the measure, and say it has no legal authority. From the Tribune-Courier:

While Marshall County Judge-Executive Kevin Neal was on WCBL Friday morning saying he would present the so-called “Second Amendment sanctuary county” ordinance as-is on Jan. 7, 2020 against the advice of County Attorney Jason Darnall, the Benton City Council was holding a special-called meeting to discuss options for putting a stop to the ordinance Benton City Attorney Rob Mattingly called “very troubling for police and judges who are trying to protect our citizens.”

Mattingly, who served more than 20 years on the bench as a family court judge, delved into the details of the proposed Second Amendment sanctuary county ordinance (SASO) for the Benton City Council members Dec. 20. He began with reading Kentucky Revised Statute (KRS) 65.870 which he said not only prohibits municipalities (cities) and counties from enacting ordinances such as the proposed SASO but also deems such a measure as “null, void and unenforceable.”

According to the KRS, Mattingly explained, the city has the option to file an injunctive order to stop the ordinance from going into effect. He said the SASO wouldn’t be considered law until a second reading and successful vote passed the measure, so he advised the council wait until that happens before they take any legal action.

Ironically, gun control activists that have been trying to undo firearms preemption laws around the country are now claiming that Kentucky’s firearms preemption law precludes counties from adopting any ordinance having to do with firearms. That issue may end up being settled in court, but I don’t expect it will have much effect on dampening the enthusiasm for the pro-Second Amendment resolutions and ordinances that we’ve seen from thousands of Kentuckians over the past couple of weeks.