More than 70 people attended the Oldham County Fiscal Court meeting today in support of making Oldham County a Second Amendment Sanctuary.
Four resolutions have been sent to the fiscal court urging the county to become a Second Amendment Sanctuary, according to Judge-Executive David Voegele, and while they differ in language the aim remains the same: asserting the county’s support for the amendment and against state laws restricting gun rights.
A Second Amendment Sanctuary refers to counties and other localities that have adopted laws or resolutions seeking to prohibit enforcement of gun control measures thought to violate the Second Amendment.
Nearly 20 people spoke at the fiscal court meeting in favor of a sanctuary resolution. The fiscal court, however, did not pass a resolution, but could later this month.
Rick Gray, who was elected District 4 constable last year and ran unopposed as a write-in candidate, submitted one of the resolutions and spoke at today’s fiscal court meeting. Gray has more than 30 years of experience with the state Department of Corrections, is a firearms instructor and also teachers concealed carry courses.
He said the Kentucky legislature had already “thrown the first punch” with the prefilling of several bills he says restrict the rights of the Second Amendment.
“We the people must protect the sanctity of the Second Amendment,” Gray said.
There are currently five bills pre-filed for the 2020 legislative session pertaining to firearms and weapons. The five vary in scope and purpose.
Bill Request 187, for example, would repeal the law passed last year that allows people to conceal carry a deadly weapon without a permit.
Bill Request 354 seeks to establish an assault weapons registration program, a weapons buyback program and criminalize the possession of unregistered assault weapons, among other provisions.
The 2020 regular session of the Kentucky General Assembly started today.
Barry Laws, owner of Openrange in Crestwood, has also submitted a resolution to the fiscal court. For the past several days, he’s had a petition at his gun range people can sign to support the measure.
Laws moved to Kentucky from California and said his view on gun rights comes from his time living there. He said during his time there, laws changed to where firearms he once purchased legally were later classified as illegal, among a flurry of other changes.
Those who spoke in favor of granting sanctuary status for the county spoke in similar terms and sentiments: legislation curbing gun rights are attempts to disarm regular citizens, firearms are used for the protection of self and family, opposition to red flag laws and other measures and personal stories where they used a gun for self-defense.
“If we don’t stand up for our rights then we are not going to be able to defend ourselves against those people who don’t abide by the law,” La Grange resident Roberta Douglas said.
Voegele said all of the magistrates on fiscal court are strong supporters of the Second Amendment, but he could not support a resolution that called for the county government to ignore laws passed by the legislature.
The Era has seen the resolutions submitted by Gray and Laws and both call for Oldham County to ignore any laws passed that are thought to violate the Second Amendment.
“We don’t have the right as a county to supersede state laws,” Voegele said.
Kentucky already has a law on the books that prohibits local firearms ordinances. Kentucky Revised Statute 65.870 places the power of governing firearm purchase, transfer, ownership, possession, carrying, in the hands of the General Assembly and away from counties and other public municipalities.
University of Kentucky law professor Scott Bauries previously told the Era resolutions, such as the Second Amendment Sanctuary, are nonbinding and would not supersede state or federal laws. Nonbinding resolutions carry no legal weight but are often adopted on principle.
Voegele said he would be in support of a resolution that supports the Second Amendment and tells the Kentucky General Assembly they’re not in favor of any legislation which would restrict or infringe upon it.
Magistrate Chris Haunz, chairman of the public safety committee, agreed that the fiscal court shouldn’t be expressing intentions to defy state law.
“I agree with the judge that we have to be careful with what we do,” he said.
Alex White, who ran unsuccessfully in the Republican primary against Sen. Ernie Harris last year, told the fiscal court with the passage of sanctuary resolution the county should say they support the Second Amendment as it currently stands and not support any changes to gun laws.
“I just hope that Oldham County comes together and sends a message to Frankfort that we respect the status quo, we don’t want these radical gun laws introduced in Frankfort passed,” White said.
Voegele said the four resolutions would be sent to the fiscal court’s public safety committee. The committee would then consider the resolutions and present a coherent resolution and recommendation to the full fiscal court.
The other magistrates also seemed to be in support of a sanctuary resolution and supportive of the Second Amendment.
Magistrate Albert Harrison said he thought it was great so many people came out and made a point of noting that safe firearm ownership and usage should also be a crucial part of the conversation.
Magistrate Bob Dye encouraged those in attendance to keep up the pressure and let lawmakers in Frankfort know their opinions.
“Your next step tonight is to send an email to your state representative,” Dye said.
The Oldham County Fiscal Court next meets Jan. 21 at 2 p.m.
About Second Amendment Sanctuaries
The push for Second Amendment sanctuaries has been largely outsourced from Virginia where the gun rights group Virginia Citizens Defense League has pushed local officials to defy any “unconstitutional restrictions” on the Second Amendment.
In the last two months, more than 100 counties, cities and towns in Virginia have approved such resolutions, according to the Associated Press.
Although the movement in Virginia has notably been gaining traction, the first such sanctuary was in Illinois.
According to the AP, after winning the state legislature, Democrats in Virginia promised new gun control laws such as universal background checks, assault weapon bans and red flag laws. These gun restriction proposals triggered the sanctuary resolutions across the state.
The Second Amendment Sanctuary movement has swept across Kentucky in recent weeks.
Harlan County may have been the first in the state to adopt a sanctuary resolution, according to WYMT. Letcher County also passed a resolution and several other counties are looking to follow suit, such as Boone, Webster and Pendleton counties.
Marshall County, the site of a deadly high school shooting in 2018, will have a second reading of a sanctuary ordinance Jan. 7, according to The Marshall County Tribune-Courier.
A multitude of other counties have meetings scheduled for a resolution and by one count at least 14 Kentucky counties have approved Second Amendment Sanctuary status.