A proposed resolution that would have declared Sumner County a “Second Amendment Sanctuary County” was gutted by a county commission subcommittee last week in a move that has angered local gun rights advocates.
In a 6-1 vote Feb. 10, members of the county’s legislative committee chose to remove specific support for the right to keep and bear arms from the draft resolution and replaced it instead with a commitment to upholding all 10 amendments to the United States Constitution in the Bill of Rights.
“I think this is a fantastic idea to say we support the Second Amendment,” said Commissioner Chris Taylor who proposed the change. “I think just as equally important is that we support the entire Bill of Rights.
“I would just ask that rather than have something that is really wordy… we just have a resolution that says we support the Bill of Rights and the Constitution and that as a county we espouse the freedoms that we’ve been given and will do what we need to makes sure they are held up.”
The original version of the resolution stated that Sumner County would “not authorize or appropriate government funds, resources, employees, agencies, contractors, buildings, detention centers, or offices for the purpose of enforcing or assisting in the enforcement” of anything that would “infringe on the right by the people to keep and bear arms as described” in a three-page document.
The new version is scheduled to go before the full Sumner County Commission for a vote Feb. 24.
So far, at least 25 of the 95 counties in the Tennessee have passed resolutions specifically supporting the Second Amendment including Wilson County last month, according to Sumner County Commissioner Jeremy Mansfield who said he was “disappointed” by the change in the language that was approved, which he believes “really waters down and sidesteps the issue.”
Prior to the vote, members of the legislative committee heard from seven people who spoke in support of the Second Amendment while several dozen others filled a standing-room-only meeting room at the Sumner County Administration Building in Gallatin.
“We’re all watching what is going on in Virginia,” Dawn LoPiccolo, of Lebanon, said referencing how state lawmakers there have been moving towards stricter gun laws in recent months. “We in Tennessee decided to be a little bit more proactive and not reactive as we approach this issue.”
LoPiccolo and others also expressed concerns they have about red flag laws, which she said, “basically robs you of due process” and is “dangerous because it goes against the very principal of our legal system.”
Bethpage resident Kimberly Hasse cited a proposed bill that was filed in the Tennessee General Assembly last month, which she said represents “a real threat to the liberties and freedoms” in the state.
According to a draft version of legislation, any family member, household member, intimate partner or law enforcement officer who has a “reasonable belief that a person poses an imminent risk of harm to the person or others if allowed to purchase or possess a firearm” could file a sworn petition for an emergency protection order against the individual.
Upon the filing, a judge could issue an order prohibiting the individual from “purchasing or possessing any firearm during the period that the order is in effect.” A court hearing would also be required to be held within 30 days of the order being served.
“They violate due process,” Hasse said about the separate House and Senate versions of the bill. “As such, we believe it is your duty to protect the citizens of Sumner County.”
Sumner County Commissioner Baker Ring, who also serves as chairman of the legislative committee, said during the meeting that he had talked to a state lawmaker who does not believe any kind of gun control legislation will be passed this year.
“It doesn’t seem to be, at this time, that big of an issue in Tennessee,” Ring added.
However, both Mansfield and fellow Sumner County Commissioner Danny Sullivan each expressed concerns about how the likelihood of additional gun control measures being passed at the state and federal levels could change based on the outcome of future elections.
“To say that just because it is not happening now… I think is a bad excuse in my opinion,” Mansfield said. “I don’t support any amendment to this (resolution).”
The Sumner County Commission meeting on Monday, Feb. 24 will take place at the Sumner County Administration building located at 355 North Belvedere Dr. in Gallatin and start at 7 p.m.