Letter: No to Second Amendment sanctuary

Graphic by Lori Deaton

The county commissioners have been asked to declare Buncombe County a Second Amendment sanctuary county, or, as the group that petitioned the commissioners call it, a “constitutional rights protection county” [“Shall Not Be Infringed? Buncombe Residents Seek Second Amendment ‘Sanctuary’” Feb. 5, Xpress]. I hope that those words strike you as strangely as they strike me.

The commissioners are elected to represent all the citizens of the county, and we have the right to expect them to uphold the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, a living document, and the laws related to it. Not just the ones I like. Not just the ones a special interest group likes.

The Second Amendment is important to a lot of people in our country, including me. I own three rifles and two handguns, and have been shooting since I was in the first grade, some 50-plus years ago.

But the politics around guns is much different than when I was younger. Much of the NRA’s energy promotes the fear that those of us who support commonsense gun laws are actually trying to take guns away from law-abiding citizens. That is not true.

Less than one-third of U.S. citizens personally own a gun. Individual gun ownership has been dropping for about 40 years. Among gun owners, however, many are solidly supportive of commonsense gun laws, which include universal background checks, red flag laws, closing the background-check loophole for private and gun show sales, stopping the sale of large-capacity magazines and reactivating the assault weapons ban.

What is the reason for the resolution sent to the Buncombe County commissioners? A local change.org petition states, “We, as advocates for gun rights, believe it is our right as Americans to own and bear arms of our choosing, not the government’s.” This seems to be an argument for the continued sale of assault-style weapons and large-capacity magazines. It focuses on the “shall not be infringed” part of the Second Amendment but ignores the “well-regulated militia” part.

The Second Amendment is not a blanket right for all citizens to own firearms. You must be 18 to own a rifle and buy ammunition. You have to be 21 to own a handgun. Purchasing a fully automatic weapon requires an in-depth background check and a transfer tax, and it’s been illegal to buy a new machine gun since 1986. Felons and people convicted of certain misdemeanors cannot legally purchase firearms.

Bump stocks, like the one used in the Las Vegas shooting where over 800 were injured and 58 people were killed, were outlawed by the Trump administration and went into effect last year. These accessories turn a semi-automatic AR-15 into, for all intents and purposes, a fully automatic weapon. And they are illegal. The right for us to own any gun or accessory we want is already infringed, or regulated, to choose a less inflammatory word.

3D printed guns are now being perfected. Regulation will be important for this new frontier, as will the consequences for those that fall outside federal law related to these guns. Does Buncombe County want to be in the position of opposing laws against 3D printed guns but not, say, AR-15s, if they were to be banned?

My 21-year-old daughter’s soul mate and a young man we loved like one of our own children, Riley Howell, was sitting in his final class of the year last year when a young man burst into the classroom and started shooting. Reed Parlier, Riley’s table mate, was killed first. Four other students were wounded. Riley ran to the shooter and knocked him to the ground, but not before he was shot multiple times. The last two shots killed this loving, thoughtful young man. His efforts saved others but at a terrible loss.

The man who killed Riley and Reed and injured the other students in that classroom went to the same store multiple times to buy his gun and accessories. The DA and homicide detectives have commented that there is no way he should have been able to purchase a gun. He was developmentally challenged and socially impaired. But no one raised a red flag about him.

The right laws in place would have given a clear path for the gun shop or other people in the community to stop this young man. Those who are a danger to themselves and others must be stopped from purchasing weapons. Commonsense gun laws would aid in this effort.

Buncombe County commissioners should not declare our county a Second Amendment sanctuary. Doing that would send a message that this amendment is more important than the others. The majority of citizens, who are not gun owners, may beg to differ.

— Kevin Westmoreland



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28 thoughts on “Letter: No to Second Amendment sanctuary

    • Rich

      The common meme among the leftist gun grabbers is that “no one is going to take away your guns”. But it has always been obvious to people who actually think in any rational and sane manner that that is the ultimate goal of all Democratic party politicians, and, sadly some Republicans like Arnold Schwarzenegger, and several others we all know about….

    • J Smith

      Re: “They’re gonna take muh guns!”

      The “progressive” philosophy is more subtle, insidious, & incremental than immediate confiscation. You can see examples of the philosophy in laws that have been implemented by like minded individuals at the state level where they don’t confiscate firearms or magazines, they just pass laws that say you can’t keep, sell, transfer, share, get them repaired, purchase ammunition, inherit, or shoot them. The Colorado magazine ban is a good example where the “owner” can keep them but not share or transfer them to anyone he is living with like his/her children, spouse, roommates, significant others, domestic partners, house guests, employees, or other acquaintances you have known for years. Other examples are the CA SKS Sporter ban in 2000 & 1982 San Francisco pistol ban which required owners to dispose of any banned firearms they owned (there was no grandfathering). Other states (NY,NJ,CA,MA,MD,CT) have banned certain types of so called “assault rifles” but grandfathered those currently owned if the owners registered them. However the owner cannot sell or transfer them to anyone within the state or let their kids inherit them – the only options are to surrender them to the police, take them out of state or sell them to a licensed dealer. These states also prohibit anyone moving into the state from bringing & registering any of the “banned” firearms so they have in effect “confiscated” them by forcing them to dispose of them.

      So in a disingenuous sense you are correct – the police didn’t show up at your door to take your guns or magazines away – at least not yet – they just make it onerous, legally hazardous, & nearly impossible to own them which is the way the anti-gun folks implement their incremental strategy that will allow them to smugly and sarcastically claim “They’re gonna take muh guns!”

  1. Rich

    The NRA has been selling out the American gun owner for over 100 years. They actively supported the NFA in 1934, the Gun Control Act in 1968 and the oppositely named Firearm Owners’ Protection Act of 1986 (FOPA) which removed the right of Americans to purchase new automatic or AOW weapons, a clear violation of the Second Amendment.
    All of this was done with the cooperation of the sellout Progressive owned and run Republican Party as well.

  2. Rich

    The left wants a “living Constitution” that allows unelected judges to dictate policy and flexibly expand or retract the scope and meaning of constitutional rights at will—often as a means of sidestepping the broad consensus intentionally required for constitutional amendments—a good judge instead defers to the original meaning of the Constitution and faithfully applies that meaning without infusing his personal preferences into the matter.
    the daily signal

    • Jason W

      I agree! Let’s adhere to a strict literal interpretation on the Constitution! Come back and get your guns when you’ve formed a well regulated militia.

      • J Smith

        Re: ” well regulated militia”

        According to current US law, 10 USC 246 (formally 10 USC 311), there are 2 types of militias – organized and unorganized. The National Guard is part of the organized militia and everyone who is not in the organized militia is in the unorganized militia. However this is really irrelevant as the SCOTUS Heller decision ruled gun ownership is an individual right independent of membership in a militia.

        Also, in the 1700’s when the Second Amendment was written, well regulated didn’t mean government control – it meant “to make regular” or “be in good working order” which in today’s military parlance is often referred to as maintaining good order and discipline..

        • Jason W

          Now we’re straying away from literalism and drifting into interpretation.

          In the Heller case the SCOTUS also ruled: Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: Pp. 54–56

          • J Smith

            Re: “In the Heller case the SCOTUS also ruled: Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose”

            True. However anti-gunners interpret the statement to be a green light to ban any firearms they don’t like. Another interpretation, which is codified in existing laws, is that if you misuse a firearm or kill someone illegally you can be denied your right to own any firearms and be incarcerated or executed

  3. Rich

    The 2nd Amend is a RESTRICTIVE admendment. It states such in the Preamble to Bill of Rights. the 2A does not grant nor convey any right, but RESTRICTS and PROHIBITS the government from infringing upon this enumerated, pre-existing, God given right.
    Our rights, written BEFORE the Constitution, are unalienable and are endowed from our CREATOR – not our legislators, not our government and certainly not from the United Nations and their attempt at gaining control.

    • C-Law

      Truth…of course the Yankee Republicans killed the Original Republic and its Constitution by 1865z

      We are now swirling the drain at the end of the American Empire, no natural rights matter or will be respected by the totalitarians that govern the world today.

      • Lou

        I have a natural right to walk the streets without fear of being shot to death by some idiot with a weapon he neither needs or deserves.

        • J Smith

          Re: “I have a natural right to walk the streets without fear of being shot to death by some idiot with a weapon he neither needs or deserves”

          That’s true. That’s why if someone possesses or uses a firearm illegally, they can be incarcerated or executed.

          • Lou

            You mean AFTER they have decimated a large group of schoolchildren or coworkers? You’re an adult, you know the laws are not working.

          • J Smith

            Re: “You’re an adult, you know the laws are not working”

            According to the CDC in 2016 there were about 14415 people murdered with firearms in the US which works out to about 39 people per day. These are the “word doctored” figures the news media and anti-gun folks like to publicize because people relate to the magnitude of those numbers and it sounds like a lot of people until you realize this is out of a population of 326 million Americans. In that context, it works out to about 1 person out of every 23,000 people being murdered by a firearm and about 1 person out of every 923,000 (FBI data) being murdered with a rifle which includes so called “assault rifles”. Dwell on the magnitude of your individual significance next time you are in a stadium with 23,000 or 923,000 people and you will realize these events are rare. It is also estimated there are about 109 million gun owners and 20 million “assault style” weapon owners in the US which means on any given day 108,999,961 gun owners didn’t murder anyone nor did 19,999,961 “assault style” weapon owners – yet because the news media magnifies these relatively isolated and infrequent events to the level of an epidemic, the anti-gun folks answer is to restrict or take the guns away from people who harmed no one. The number of homicides with a firearm will never be zero – so if you think 1 person out of 23,000 or 923,000 is unacceptable then given the fact that deranged individuals and murderers are an intrinsic part of the human race and we currently live in a free society, what number of illegal firearm homicides would ever be acceptable to you to the point you would say “we don’t need any more “laws” regarding the private ownership of firearms”?

        • J Smith

          Re: “You mean AFTER they have decimated a large group of schoolchildren or coworkers?”

          Just like First Amendment rights where people aren’t gagged or don’t have their tongues removed to prevent them from abusing the right and yelling “fire!” in a crowded theater

  4. Gene Ralno

    Seems the best part of America’s population has had it with the democrat insistence on redistributing wealth from those who earned it to those who did not. Democrats know the path to seizing control of America’s wealth first requires control of American arms. It also seems democrats have forced conservatives to an inevitable catastrophic brink. Consequently, conservatives are mobilizing in historic numbers.

    Clearly red flag laws have triggered the national movement for 2nd Amendment Sanctuary counties. And we’re already witnessing a sea change in the sanctuary movement. I’ve always believed these partisan and unconstitutional laws could be defeated by simply denying assistance to federal or state law enforcement.

    The obvious reason is federal and state resources alone are woefully inadequate to enforce such things as grip or storage violations and could not begin to undertake such efforts without local law enforcement assistance. If deputizing hundreds of thousands to actively resist federal and state efforts should happen, it’s a single issue revolt which could rapidly expand.

    Hundreds of counties already have proclaimed sanctuary status and almost 70 percent of the counties nationwide are projected to declare allegiance to the Constitution and refusal to enforce laws that violate it. That would comprise 472 counties with only one murder per year plus 1,700 counties that have no murders at all. If that materializes, a desirable result would force federal and state enforcement to concentrate on the 63 counties (2% of the total) where half of America’s murders occur.

    Governors should be careful what they wish for because outlying counties are not without strengths. Where 2nd Amendment sanctuary lines are drawn, we should find states with few electors. Their strength will naturally ally with sparsely populated counties in states with many electors.

    They’re the counties that control all the food and water, wood products, oil and gas, wind turbines, hydroelectric power, minerals, highways, bridges, utility easements, access to most of the lakes, national and state parks, most natural resources and countless other life sustaining necessities.

    They’re much more likely to be armed and far less likely to surrender to the likes of any state or federal government official. They’re also more willing and able to survive deprivation of food, water, fuel and power. Perhaps most importantly, they have sheriffs who enforce laws within vast expanses of land and access to it. All these people are far more willing to fight for the constitutional republic rather than surrender it to democrat domination.

    Regarding other political forces, President James Madison said: “…local or municipal authorities form distinct and independent portions of the supremacy, no more subject, within their respective spheres, to the general authority than the general authority is subject to them, within its own sphere.” (Federalist 39)

    “There is no lawful authority for judges or a court to direct the law enforcement activities of a county sheriff. He’s not a part of the judiciary, and holds executive power and can set up a court, empanel a jury, and form a militia or posse to protect the rights of those he represents.”

    In other words, county sheriffs have the constitutional authority and duty to protect the citizens, by force if necessary, even if it means authorizing a militia. John Adams said, “You have rights antecedent to all earthly governments; rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws; rights derived from the Great Legislator of the Universe.” No mere governor may revoke them.

  5. John DeMarco Jr

    We’ll take one step at a time, and the first is necessarily – given the political realities – very modest. We’ll have to start working again to strengthen the law, and then again to strengthen the next law and again and again. Our ultimate goal, total control of handguns, is going to take time. The first problem is to slow down production and sales. Next is to get registration. The final problem is to make possession of all handguns and ammunition (with a few exceptions) totally illegal. — Pete Shields, founder of Handgun Control, Inc., New Yorker Magazine, June 26, 1976, pg. 53

  6. Henry

    It would be simpler for those who have rushed here to defend the 2A from the evil Democrats to go out and buy as many guns and ammo that you can afford. Forget about having extra food and supplies. None of those things matter. Put your money were your obsession lies.

  7. J Smith

    Re: “universal background checks”

    If the totality of what is really desired is “universal background checks” on all gun transfers, the answer is simple and easy – give anyone free, anonymous, public access to the federal NICS background check database of persons prohibited from owning firearms and then tell private sellers if you sell or give a firearm to someone and don’t retain something that documents you did a favorable NICS check on the buyer, you could be held liable if they commit a gun-related crime. There is no reason to get the government involved any further in the process unless you have other goals in mind like a federal registry of all firearms

  8. J Smith

    Re: “Individual gun ownership has been dropping for about 40 years”

    This is a typical, speculative, anti-gun sophistry intended to discourage and dismiss the idea of gun ownership. You have no way of knowing if this is true because there is no national registry of firearm owners and no gun owner I know is going to respond to surveys by strangers that ask if they own any firearms – especially in today’s environment

  9. J Smith

    Re: “commonsense gun laws”

    In 1934, 1938, 1968, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1993, 1994, 1996, 2000, 2007 and 2018 I suspect similar arguments were made for “commonsense gun laws” when more restrictive federal gun laws were passed. Since all of the regulations derived from these laws are apparently not enough, maybe you can understand the reluctance of gun owners to entertain the idea of sitting quietly and accepting a new barrage. The problem is the real agenda of the people who are leading the charge for more gun control is to ban all guns except for the government and governments (unlike individuals) hold the world record for killing people that don’t agree with them. The reality is implementing expanded background checks or banning semi-automatic rifles (like the AR) or standard capacity magazines has nothing to do with keeping the people safe – it’s about using a horrific crimes like mass shootings to whip lawmakers into an emotional frenzy to goad them into quickly advancing the agenda of gun control irrespective of any facts in more incremental “progressive” steps in order to set a new baseline and move the goal posts to the point where an unscrupulous government would have the option to do what ever they please.

  10. J Smith

    Re: “focuses on the “shall not be infringed” part of the Second Amendment but ignores the “well-regulated militia” part.”

    In the 1700’s when the Second Amendment was written, well regulated didn’t mean government control – it meant “to make regular” or “be in good working order” which in today’s military parlance is often referred to as maintaining good order and discipline.

    Also according to current US law, 10 USC 246 (formally 10 USC 311), there are 2 types of militias – organized and unorganized. The National Guard is part of the organized militia and everyone who is not in the organized militia is in the unorganized militia. However this is really irrelevant as the SCOTUS Heller decision ruled gun ownership is an individual right independent of membership in a militia.

  11. J Smith

    Re: “The Second Amendment is not a blanket right for all citizens to own firearms”

    The purpose of the Second Amendment is clearly stated in the preamble to the Bill of Rights where it says “The convention of a number of states having at the time of their adopting of the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse, of its powers that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added”. Note that when the Second Amendment was written, every weapon was a weapon of war, there were no restrictions on the private ownership of weapons and the militia was equally matched with the Continental Army. After all, if they weren’t equally matched, it would be pretty hard to deter or “prevent misconstruction or abuse” of the government’s powers – so in reality, the citizen militia of today should have the same firearms as the current US military. Unfortunately we are no longer equally matched because we have let our gun rights be eroded by buying into this notion if we just compromise to accommodate the people who – for whatever reason – don’t like guns they will quit trying to take away our gun rights. History has shown that no matter how much we compromise, it’s never enough so we need to stop compromising

  12. J Smith

    Re: “red flag laws”

    Red flag laws really aren’t necessary. Several states have laws that allow the police or mental health authorities to evaluate anyone and confine them to a mental health facility away from their firearms for 72 hours without any due process if they believe the individual is a danger to themselves or others. After 72 hours, the individual is either released if they are no longer considered to be a danger or they are offered the choice of remaining in the facility either voluntarily or under a court order.

    So why don’t these laws work? The problem is in most cases the mental health facility will not accept a person unless they are medically cleared – especially if drugs or alcohol are involved. This typically requires the individual to be taken first to a hospital emergency room (ER) for a stay that can last hours or even days – and because ER facilities are not lockdown facilities and no one funds a 24/7 guard to watch them, they often slip out of the ER unnoticed.

    So how do you fix this? Under current laws, the US government requires all hospitals that accept Medicare to treat anyone regardless of immigration status or ability to pay. So to fix the “red flag” problem, the federal government should use the same legal arguments to require all hospitals that accept Medicare to provide at least one ER examining room that can be locked down to securely detain any person who is on a mental health hold until they can be transferred to a mental health facility for evaluation

  13. J Smith

    Re: “closing the background-check loophole for private and gun show sales”

    There are no real “loopholes”. “Universal background checks” is progressive speak for wanting to pass laws to monitor and control loans, transfers, physical access or inadvertent exposure of firearms, ammunition, or “high capacity” magazines to distant relatives, friends, domestic partners, significant others, roommates, employees, dating partners, house guests or other acquaintances you have known for years. You can see this philosophy reflected in the laws passed in CA, CO, NV, OR and WA. The only “loophole” that needs closing is the reluctance to enforce existing laws. You could start by insisting empathetic judges and DAs quit allowing people who use or possess a gun illegally to plea bargain away the illegal firearms offense. The feds are one of the worst offenders when it comes to enforcing laws. Straw purchases and lying on the 4473 form you have to fill out for a background check to purchase a firearm is a felony punishable by 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine – yet in 2010 76142 people failed the background check, 4732 were deemed worthy of prosecution and only 62 were referred for prosecution

  14. J Smith

    Re: “The right for us to own any gun or accessory we want is already infringed, or regulated”

    Primarily because the feckless SCOTUS refuses to take up the issue and interpret the Constitution as it is written as opposed to what some people want it to say

    • Phillip C Williams

      Mr. Smith – I couldn’t help but notice that every one of your comments made perfect sense and your logic is difficult to argue with. I suppose that is why there was not one response? Or there might have been but the admins/referees who watch the page probably didn’t want everyone to see how unhinged people can become on this subject..

      Like “Lou” up above saying “You’re an adult. You know the laws are not working.” Yet he insist that new laws and more laws will work. No law ever works for those who do not obey it. But, that probably makes ‘way too much sense for some folks to accept.

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