Inspired by the Second Amendment Sanctuary movement that has swept across the state of Virginia, commissioners in Uintah County, Utah have declared the community a Second Amendment Sanctuary as well, becoming the first in the state to do so.
The unanimous vote took place Wednesday morning, and Fox 13 in Utah reports the ordinance has buy-in from the county attorney as well as commissioners.
Bill Stringer, one of the Uintah County Commissioners at the special meetings said their needs, as a county, are not being represented on the Federal and State level.
“It’s unsettling for people living in rural America that are saying, no one is listening to us,” said Stringer. “No one is paying any attention.”
Stringer said the people of Uintah County are “clinging” to their guns and bibles as they watch some in the nation push for gun control.
The ordinance passed makes Uintah County a Second Amendment Sanctuary – meaning any gun control measures passed by the Federal and State governments can be considered unconstitutional except for extreme circumstances.
Jonathan Stearmer, the Principal Deputy Uintah County Attorney explained the ordinance during the meeting, countering the call for more gun control by stating it violated the constitutional right to bear arms.
“The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the right to bear arms is a fundamental right,” said Stearmer. “Which means those fundamental rights can only be restricted, narrowly tailored to a state interest.”
Note that the commissioners in Uintah County have passed an actual ordinance, not just a resolution. Under the language approved by commissioners, any violation of the ordinance (in essence, any attempt to enforce unconstitutional gun control laws) will be considered a misdemeanor offense in the county.
County commissioners say the move is a pre-emptive one, rather than a response to any particular piece of legislation filed in Utah this year.
Meanwhile, anti-gun activists continue their campaign against the movement, with gun control advocate and professor Robert Spitzer penning a new attack on Second Amendment Sanctuaries for a Syracuse, New York paper.
In 2018, for example, a county in Illinois enacted a resolution vowing not to enforce “unconstitutional” gun measures then before the state legislature, including proposals to ban bump stocks, assault weapons and large-capacity magazines (those holding more than 10 rounds). A Virginia county recently enacted a resolution that “would oppose unconstitutional restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms.” Over 70 local governments in Illinois have enacted similar measures; in Virginia, where the state legislature is now on the verge of enacting several new gun laws, more than 120 municipalities have approved sanctuary provisions. In all, local governments in 20 states have done the same.
Now this movement has, it seems, come to New York. Last week, the Solon Town Board, located in my home county of Cortland, announced that it was going to consider such a resolution. According to a board member, “We’ll abide by the state’s [gun] laws they have set now,” but “if they try any overreach. . . we’re not going to abide by that.”
Spitzer lays out the usual objections; the the resolutions have no force of law, communities can’t just decide not to enforce laws they don’t like, and so on. The problem with Spitzer’s argument is that these sanctuaries aren’t actually doing anything illegal. In fact, while Uintah County passed an actual ordinance, most of the Second Amendment Sanctuaries around the country have simply passed non-binding resolutions vowing to oppose any unconstitutional gun law by any legal means.
Spitzer, like other anti-gun activists, also ignores the long history in the United States to local opposition to unjust laws, from the Alien and Sedition Acts of the 1790s to Prohibition and the civil rights movement of the 20th century. What Spitzer defines as dangerous is simply part of our cultural DNA.
I suspect that we’ll soon see more counties in Utah follow Uintah County’s lead, and I’ll be keeping my eye on wha the town board in Solon, New York does as well. Despite the huffing and puffing by gun control advocates, the Second Amendment Sanctuary isn’t going away any time soon. In fact, it’s just getting started.