Clermont County Joins Other Counties in Passing 'Second Amendment Sanctuary' Legislation

The resolutions are largely symbolic, but have become popular across the U.S. since late last year.

Jan 14, 2020 at 2:19 pm

The Clermont County Commission yesterday voted unanimously to declare the county east of Cincinnati a Second Amendment sanctuary, becoming the second suburban Greater Cincinnati county to do so recently as the gun rights resolutions sweep conservative parts of the U.S. 

Northern Kentucky's Kenton County Commissioners passed a similar resolution Jan. 9, and neighboring Boone County will vote on its own resolution today at the county's fiscal court meeting. Commissioners there say they support the measure. 

The resolutions promising to protect county residents' gun rights against "unconstitutional seizures" began in Virginia last November after Democrats won control of the state legislature there. Ninety of the state's 95 counties have passed the measures, as have 20 cities in Virginia. 

The sanctuary resolutions are mostly symbolic, but they're becoming increasingly popular. 

The resolution in Clermont County yesterday led to applause from some residents in attendance, though not all supported it. Some said it was a political move, while others said they supported some degree of regulation over firearms. 

Commission candidate Chris Hicks, a Republican who is challenging commission president David Painter in the Republican primary March 17, said the move could actually be detrimental to gun rights. 

"As a conservative I believe in the rule of law," Hicks wrote in a recent Facebook post. "I also believe in effective solutions to real problems by appropriate levels of government. Counties do not make laws nor do commissioners have any role in directing law enforcement."

Some Ohio gun groups also aren't in support of the sanctuary designations. 

Ohio Gun Owners Director Chris Dorr says the resolutions carry "severe risks" and can distract from more substantive political action in which gun owners can engage in Ohio. Dorr cites a 2008 law that forbids municipalities from passing their own gun laws stricter than the state's.

"Here are the facts, folks: the reason why Virginia is being forced to do this is because no one was paying attention to this over the past two decades," he said in a Jan. 13 Facebook live video. "Here in Ohio, we are not in that boat… they fell asleep at the wheel in Virginia. We are not asleep."

Dorr expressed concerns that the resolutions could create a "patchwork" of regulations instead of uniform, gun-friendly laws across the state.

The resolutions come as a fierce battle continues over the role of government in restricting gun ownership following a number of mass shootings locally and across the country.

In Ohio, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine proposed a number of new gun safety measures following last summer's mass shooting in Dayton, which killed nine and wounded 17.

The core of DeWine's proposals included a so-called "red flag" law that would seize firearms from those determined to be a danger to themselves or other people via court order.

DeWine's plan also called for closing the "gun show" loophole in Ohio's background check laws, requiring such checks for any firearm transfer that isn't a gift between family members. It would also seek to increase legal penalties for illegal gun possession, use of a firearm in violent crimes and selling guns to minors and others illegally. 

In addition, DeWine wants better mental health interventions for young people who show signs they may become violent and better monitoring — via personnel and software — of social media, where some shooters have posted early clues about their deadly intentions. 

“If we do these things, it will matter," DeWine said at a news conference announcing the proposals in August. "If we do these things, it will make us safer."

The GOP-led state legislature, however, hasn't taken up some of DeWine's proposals, including the red flag suggestion, and has, in fact, eased gun restrictions, even introducing a bill that would eliminate license requirements for concealed carry.

But that hasn't stopped some conservatives in the state from sounding alarms about gun rights.

"I came back here and said we need to do something to send a message to Columbus that we believe in our Second Amendment rights," Clermont County Commission President Painter said during yesterday's meeting. 

Clermont is the second Ohio county to declare itself a Second Amendment sanctuary after Meigs County in eastern Ohio.