SECOND AMENDMENT SANCTUARY RESOLUTIONS: WHAT THEY ARE AND WHY THEY ARE IMPORTANT
Second Amendment Sanctuary resolutions declare or imply that state gun safety laws do not apply in communities that adopt such resolutions. Some go as far as refusing to enforce and dedicate tax-funded resources to the implementation of state gun safety measures. These resolutions jeopardize public safety by interfering with the implementation of life-saving gun violence prevention laws.
In North Carolina, at least 51 counties have passed Second Amendment Sanctuary resolutions as of April 14, 2020.
- At least 29 of those resolutions state the county’s willingness to not enforce laws they deem unconstitutional: Alamance, Alexander, Ashe, Bladen, Brunswick, Burke, Cabarrus, Caldwell, Camden, Carteret, Catawba, Franklin, Gates, Granville, Harnett, Johnston, Jones, Lee, Madison, Montgomery, Moore, Pender, Pitt, Randolph, Robeson, Rowan, Rutherford, Wayne, Yadkin.
- And 22 go even further to threaten to withhold tax dollars that go towards enforcement: Allegheny, Anson, Cleveland, Columbus, Davidson, Davie, Gaston, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Lincoln, McDowell, Mitchell, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Richmond, Rockingham, Stanly, Stokes, Surry, Union, Wilkes.
- While the language differs from resolution to resolution in North Carolina, the intent remains the same: to undermine life-saving gun violence prevention laws, or any laws that the locality perceives to unconstitutionally interfere with the Second Amendment.
WHY SECOND AMENDMENT SANCTUARY RESOLUTIONS ARE PROBLEMATIC
- Most notably, Second Amendment “Sanctuary” resolutions put domestic violence victims at increased risk for gun violence. According to the American Journal of Public Health, the presence of a firearm makes it nearly 5 times more likely that a domestic violence victim will become a homicide victim.
- Victims rely on their local governments and law enforcement agencies to help enforce protective orders, including orders for an abuser to surrender a firearm.
- A local sheriff might feel empowered by the sanctuary resolution to take an extreme stance on not enforcing gun laws. For example, they might not use county resources, like staff time, to remove weapons from domestic abusers who make credible threats to harm a partner or child.
- Passing these resolutions could embolden certain law enforcement actors and private citizens to ignore or knowingly violate gun violence prevention So-called “Second Amendment Sanctuaries” are abdicating their duty to promote the public health and safety of their constituents by refusing to enforce reasonable and necessary gun laws designed to save lives.
- A Second Amendment Sanctuary resolution can harm a county’s economy. We have seen corporations around the country adopt stricter gun policies - it's an undeniable growing trend. We do not want to see businesses leave or not locate in a North Carolina county because corporations are worried about employee safety in a “Second Amendment Sanctuary” city or county.
- A county that refuses to enforce a state law opens itself up to lawsuits.
- These resolutions are out of step with the public’s widespread support for stronger gun safety laws. A 2019 poll by the conservative Civitas Institute found that 58% of North Carolinians think our gun laws are too lax, even though 48% of those polled either owned a gun or had someone in their home who owned a gun.
NORTH CAROLINA NEEDS GUN VIOLENCE PREVENTION LAWS, NOT SANCTUARIES FROM THEM
- In 2018, 1,416 North Carolinians were shot and killed, the most since 1999.
- Firearms are the third-leading cause of death for North Carolina children. In just two years, at least 672 children and teenagers in North Carolina visited a hospital for a firearm-related injury.
- The annual cost of gun violence in North Carolina is $7.4 billion -- $754 per resident.
- Suicide is the leading cause of firearm-related deaths in North Carolina, and nearly 57% of all suicide deaths in the state involve firearms.4
- Sixty-one percent of North Carolina’s intimate partner homicides involve a gun, and abused women are five times more likely to be killed if their abuser has a firearm.
SECOND AMENDMENT SANCTUARY RESOLUTIONS MAY NOT BE LEGAL
- It is the responsibility of our courts, not local governments, to be the arbiters of a law’s constitutionality. In fact, Supreme Court Justice Scalia’s majority opinion in the District of Columbia v Heller (2008) case said that the Second Amendment was not unlimited and that a range of gun regulations are fully consistent with the Second Amendment.
- We believe that these resolutions are non-binding and/or legally invalid for several reasons: First, the language of the resolutions tend to be vague, implying that they are merely symbolic in nature. Second, each type of gun violence prevention law at issue has been deemed constitutional by courts around the country. If individuals, or even a city or county, wanted to challenge the constitutionality of any of the state gun violence prevention laws, the proper mechanism would be to file a civil suit.