After weeks of debate and discussion, county commissioners in St. Mary’s County, Maryland have declared the county a Second Amendment Sanctuary. The vote makes the southern Maryland county the sixth 2A sanctuary in the state, although commissioners and the county attorney stressed that the resolution is symbolic in nature.
Commissioner Mike Hewitt (R) asked, “If Annapolis passes some type of law that goes against the grain of the 2nd Amendment … is this symbolic or would we not enforce the laws from the legislature?”
“This is symbolic,” [County Attorney David] Weiskopf replied. “If somebody has a problem with a law that’s passed then you go to court, which is what they did with the Maryland Safe Gun Act passed in 2010 or so. It went to the federal district of Maryland and it was upheld and the Supreme Court refused.”
Compared to other counties, Weiskopf claimed he “wrote a pretty vanilla” resolution.
“In Calvert County it says that any law passed for any reason for ammo or guns violates the Second Amendment,” he said.
“I think you did a very good job with the wording,” Commissioner Todd Morgan (R) told Weiskopf.
The specific language in St. Mary’s resolution affirms “the commissioners’ commitment to the values of the founding fathers and the United States Constitution; express the commissioners’ continued commitment to support all provisions of the Constitution, including the right of the people to keep and bear arms; express the commissioners’ strong support for the rights of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms and urges the members of the general assembly and the governor to take no action which would violate the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and Bill of Rights; and declare the commissioners’ support of other elected bodies making similar declarations on behalf of Maryland counties, cities and towns,” according to Weiskopf.
I would have liked to have seen language included that promised legal action by the county if any unconstitutional gun control bills are signed into law, but this is a good first step.
Commissioner John O’Connor (R), who has been leading the way on the initiative, told The Enterprise on Wednesday, he is “glad we took the steps forward to get it passed and support those who legally own firearms and are responsible with them.”
Although COVID-19 has limited county activity since the sanctuary discussion began, he said commissioners continued to receive letters of support from residents advocating for the designation.
While the resolution may be “pretty vanilla” as Weiskopf described it, it’s also a clear rebuke to the anti-gun politicians in Annapolis who continue to target legal gun owners instead of focusing their efforts on violent criminals. Commissioner Eric Colvin remarked before the vote that he and many of his constituents want to see lawmakers increase the penalties for gun thieves and those who use stolen firearms in the commission of a violent crime.
With St. Mary’s resolution now in effect, a quarter of the state’s 24 counties have now approved resolutions supporting the right to keep and bear arms, though the language varies from county to county. While the coronavirus pandemic may have slowed the growth of the Second Amendment Sanctuary movement, it’s clear that the movement hasn’t gone away.