By: Robert Davis
As avid readers of Gunpowder Magazine know, we have published a wealth of stories regarding the grassroots movement known as Second Amendment Sanctuary Counties. In turn, we received a lot of feedback from our readers regarding how local organizers can start their own movement.
To answer some of these questions, we spoke to Sheriff Steve Reams from Weld County, Colorado and Sheriff Tony Mace from Cibola County, New Mexico and asked them what advice they have for gun owners in counties that are currently not Second Amendment sanctuaries. Below is some of their advice.
Be Open with Local Law Enforcement
It’s impossible for local law enforcement officials to know whether their constituents would support a Second Amendment Sanctuary resolution without having an open line of communication between the Sheriff’s Office and local residents.
“People need to have that discussion with their local law enforcement agency and remind them of their oath of office,” Sheriff Mace told GPM. “In New Mexico, we realized that the U.S. Constitution gives power to the states to enact laws and govern themselves, but we were relying on Congress to pass these laws. Unfortunately, they are not carrying the voice of the people on this issue.”
Instead of petitioning Washington D.C., Sheriff Mace took the issue directly to his County Commissioners and explained why protecting the Second Amendment rights of his constituents mattered so much to him. That conversation took place during a time when the state legislature in Santa Fe was welcoming a newly elected Democratic governor who strongly supported anti-gun legislation that Sheriff Mace vociferously opposed, such as Extreme Risk Protection Orders, otherwise known as Red Flag Laws.
Sheriff Mace’s actions began a movement that spread like wildfire throughout New Mexico. Now, 29 of the state’s 32 counties are Second Amendment Sanctuaries.
Opening lines of communication won’t always amount to a resolution being brought before your County Commissioners. Douglas County, Colorado is a prime example of that.
Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock was one of the most vocal proponents of passing Colorado’s red flag laws in 2019. He spent several hours testifying before committees in an effort to help push through the state’s democratically controlled legislature.
Sheriff Spurlock spent so much time at the capitol, however, that he forgot to listen to what his county residents thought about the issue.
In March 2019, Douglas County passed a resolution “Regarding Citizen’s Constitutional Rights, Public Safety and Mental Health” that states that Douglas County is a “safe place for individuals to pursue their God given rights, liberties, and freedoms in peace and prosperity, and The Board of County Commissioners will fund the enforcement of only those duly enacted state laws that fully respect and support the Constitutional rights of our citizens, including their rights to due process, to bear arms, and to defend themselves from evil.”
Sheriff Spurlock is currently facing an intense recall effort because of his actions regarding the passage of Colorado’s red flag laws.
Focus on Facts, Not Politics
It is a fact that red flag laws place an undue burden on small and rural counties by creating storage requirements for seized weapons that would stretch the ability of many law enforcement agencies to the brink without offering a way to pay for it.
“One of the most important things to remember in this is that County Commissioners do not want to spend money on unfunded mandates,” Sheriff Reams told Gunpowder Magazine.
After the red flag laws passed in Colorado, Fremont County Sheriff Allen Cooper told GPM that the bill would force him to file an emergency appropriations bill with the county in order to store any seized weapons. This would take money away from necessary functions like snow plowing or road repairs.
Write All Concerns into the Draft Resolution
After you’ve begun talking to your local law enforcement agency and your county commissioners, don’t wait for them to begin drafting a resolution for you.
Furthermore, don’t expect their drafts to include all of your concerns. It may help your case if you bring a draft resolution with you when you start those conversations.
You don’t need to be a lawyer to draft these resolutions either. There are plenty of places to find great templates, many of which are already adopted.
Several counties across the U.S. and the Western States Sheriff’s Association website have resolution templates that can be modified to fit your exact concerns.
Don’t Parse the Meaning of ‘Sanctuary’
Nowadays, it’s easy to forget exactly what the word sanctuary means. It’s become so politicized that if you tell people you want your county to become a Second Amendment Sanctuary, they might think you support illegal immigration.
But, remember the bigger picture. Would you rather live in a world where you have to rely on the government to keep you safe, or one in which you can take control of your own life?
Be sure to ask that question to as many people in your community as you can. That will help you build a contingency with which to approach your local officials. The more support, the better.
“Instead of focusing your attention on whether or not to call it a ‘Sanctuary’ or a ‘Preservation.’ remind your law enforcement officials that they have a duty to uphold the constitution, and ask them to stand by it,” Sheriff Reams said.
Robert Davis is a general assignment reporter for Gunpowder Magazine. You can contact him with tips or comments at RobertDavis0414 (at) gmail.com.