At a Dawson County Board of Commissioner's works session on Thursday, Feb. 6, the board heard a proposed resolution seeking to make Dawson County a “Second Amendment Sanctuary County."
The proposal, which was reportedly submitted by a member of the community and representative of the local Republican Party, would seek to bar any state or federal firearm law deemed unconstitutional by the county, by blocking funding for any party recognizing such law and banning all employees under the purview of the board from providing any support or participation in such firearm legislation.
After the resolution was briefly introduced by Commission Chairman Billy Thurmond, County Attorney Angela Davis told the board that because any ordinances or laws pertaining to firearms are not under direct control of the board, the proposal would need to be reworked or clarified to fall within their authority.
“Under state law, we in local government are preempted by laws in the area of gun control, because it’s a state area of regulation,” Davis said. “So while this proclaims that we won’t even pass laws that implicate the Second Amendment, we don’t have the authority to do that anyhow.”
However, Davis said that the “long form” resolution could be adopted by the board with certain clarification as to who the board has the ability to control and what they have the ability to regulate.
“Because obviously we can’t control the operations of the sheriff’s office, or the probate court, or the district attorney’s office or the superior court and so forth. So there was language added to make that clear,” she said. “Just to be clear that we’re not intending to overstep and tell other elected officials what they can and can’t do.”
The second option, what Davis called a “short form” of the resolution would reportedly uphold the county’s commitment to the Second Amendment, commit to making no ordinances that would infringe upon the right to bear arms, throwing support behind the Dawson County Sheriff and his discretion to enforce firearm laws.
“The short form, candidly, I think stays very clearly within the lane of what you have control and authority over," Davis continued. "The other ordinance as presented, while we did narrow it, is still fairly broad in terms of the fact that you really don’t enforce gun laws, that’s something that’s left to the sheriff and the courts.”
Davis said that by sticking with the long form proposal the board risks stretching beyond what they have the authority do do.
Following Davis’s words, District 2 Commissioner Chris Gaines said that even a symbolic gesture of support for the Second Amendment would be worth pursuing.
“The challenge really becomes, and maybe I’m completely wrong, but the sheriff’s office is the one that has to implement this stuff and they take an oath, too, to uphold the Constitution,” Gaines said. “So if a law comes out that constrains our rights based on the Second Amendment, then they would have to decide whether or not they are going to in force that law or not.”
After the work session, Dawson County Sheriff Jeff Johnson told the Dawson County News that he fully supports the county for considering such a proposal.
If such a proposal was approved by the county, Johnson said that his office would similarly uphold the Second Amendment sanctuary provisions and his office would not uphold any state or federal laws deemed to violate the Second Amendment.
“We’re not against gun laws, we’re certainly for taking guns out of the hands of criminals and those with ill intent,” Johnson said. "But we want to protect the rights of law abiding citizens.“
Added Johnson, “I think this is a fine example and a good statement to the county that their elected officials do support their constitutional rights.”