While 2021 is shaping up to be the Year of Constitutional Carry in terms of pro-2A legislation, the Second Amendment Sanctuary movement that exploded in popularity in late 2019 and 2020 is still rolling right along as well. In fact, you can find so many local news stories about counties and towns adopting Sanctuary resolutions that I’ve quit trying to report on each and every one, because there’s simply no way to keep up.
However, Noah Davis, who runs the websites https://sanctuarycounties.com and https://constitutionalsanctuaries.com, is keeping track of the growing number of 2A Sanctuary counties, towns, and states, and he tells the Second Amendment Foundation’s Lee Williams that nearly half of the counties in the United States are now Second Amendment Sanctuaries.
Davis has been tracking the movement since its inception – tallying the growing numbers every single day.
“There are 1,459 Second Amendment Sanctuary counties, out of a total of 3,144 counties, but I’m still tallying them right now,” Davis told me Wednesday. “I’ve got a bit of a backlog. I’m working on updating my national map, but they’re happening so fast, and I’m just one person in Virginia.”
The 1,459 includes counties located in the 10 states that have declared themselves Second Amendment Sanctuaries, he explained.
Davis, too, has seen little interest and major errors in the media’s coverage of the Second Amendment Sanctuary movement.
“There have been people writing about it, but most refer to an article that was published in the Trace more than a year ago,” he said. “That story indicated there were only 400 Second Amendment Sanctuary counties, but that number is completely out of date.
“This is frustrating to me,” he said.
Davis explained that he was not politically active until the Democrats took control of the Virginia state government.
“They started proposing laws that would have made many Virginians like myself felons overnight,” he said. “I started looking for ways to fight back.”
Within a few months, he said, more than 95% of Virginia’s counties had declared themselves Second Amendment Sanctuaries, and then the movement was copied in Kentucky and Michigan.
“After that it just took off,” he said.
While Virginia wasn’t the first state to see the Second Amendment Sanctuary movement catch on (Illinois and New Mexico both saw dozens of counties adopt 2A sanctuary resolutions in 2018 and early 2019), the thousands of Virginians who turned out at their local county supervisors meetings drew the first significant national media attention to the movement, which as Davis explains, then caught fire in other states.
Even in anti-gun strongholds like New Jersey and New York we’ve seen towns and counties successfully pass Second Amendment Sanctuary language, and the movement shows no sign of slowing down. Several counties adopted resolutions just this week, including Park County, Wyoming.
“Given what’s shaken out in the new administration east of here, a lot of folks in the county, a lot of folks in Wyoming are concerned about … federal overreach,” Commission Chairman Lee Livingston said. “And we here in Park County are pretty adamant about what the Second Amendment spells out.”
The elected officials said they were passing the resolution “to defend the rights and liberties of the citizens of Park County.”
Commissioners did not go as far as leaders in some Wyoming counties and other parts of the country that have dubbed themselves Second Amendment “sanctuaries” and declared they won’t enforce any laws or regulations that infringe on gun rights.
“My concern is, if you’re a sanctuary county, you get to determine exactly what you’re a sanctuary for,” Livingston said of preferring “preservation county.”
So-called “sanctuary cities,” for example, are municipalities where local officials refuse to fully cooperate with federal officials to enforce immigration laws.
“If you’re a sanctuary for the Second Amendment, what if someone comes forward and says, ‘Well, hey, I want us to be a sanctuary for marijuana?’” Livingston asked. The chairman joked that he’d “like to see us be a sanctuary county with the grizzly bears and wolves, as far as prosecution for ‘managing them.’”
The Park County Commission’s resolution was based on one approved in Johnson County last month, with a couple changes. Most notably, Johnson County commissioners included a provision saying they were prohibiting any county funds or personnel from being used “to abridge the rights of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms” under the state and U.S. constitutions. That line was struck from Park County’s version.
Gun control activists have claimed that the “gun lobby” is directing and controlling the Second Amendment Sanctuary movement, but as the recent vote in Park County indicates, these resolutions are driven by local grassroots activists and citizens, and there is no standard template for a 2A Sanctuary resolution. Some counties may choose a slightly more symbolic approach, as Park County did, while others are specifically spelling out that they won’t expend a penny of public money to enforce new federal gun control laws.
I’m solidly in favor of more substantive policies like the one approved by Johnson County, Wyoming or the recent Arkansas Sovereignty Act recently approved by the state legislature, but some local officials are still skittish about supporting those resolutions that direct law enforcement to stand down and not assist in the enforcement of new gun control laws. I ran into that myself when my home county in Virginia took up their own Second Amendment Sanctuary resolution in December of 2019, but thankfully despite the reservations from a few supervisors we were able to put good language on the books.
Anti-gun Democrats in Washington, D.C. are still intent on stripping us of our Second Amendment rights, but millions of Americans are making it clear that they have no intention of playing along with the unconstitutional power grabs that gun control activists and anti-gun politicians are trying to impose on the American people. The Second Amendment Sanctuary movement isn’t going away, and neither are our Second Amendment rights.