GALLATIN, Tennessee – After nearly four hours of the regular monthly meeting of the Sumner County Board of County Commissioners, a Second Amendment Sanctuary County Resolution was passed Monday evening by a vote of 18 to 4.
The end result and the vote somewhat belies the battle that took place for the passage of the resolution.
That battle started at the Sumner County Commission’s Legislative Committee meeting on February 10, when the original Second Amendment Sanctuary County Resolution was presented on behalf of citizens’ request by Commissioner Jeremy Mansfield (R-District 11) (pictured above left with Commissioner Moe Taylor, right, along with Sumner County Stands United organizers).
The Sumner County resolution is the local effort of Sumner County Stands United, which is part of the larger statewide effort of Tennessee Stands United to get a Second Amendment sanctuary resolution passed in all 95 counties.
The effort was initiated due to the movement around the country to disarm citizens, largely through Red Flag Laws, otherwise known as an extreme risk protective order.
Red Flag Laws allow police to obtain a court order to seize the firearms or ammunition of otherwise legal owners of such via a hearing, meaning the subject is not present to defend themselves. These laws allow nearly anyone to petition a court to remove firearms and ammunition from an otherwise lawful owner of such who is believed to present a danger to themselves or others.
Following a rally in support of the Second Amendment, Commissioner Mansfield asked for the Second Amendment Sanctuary County Resolution to be added to the agenda of the February 10 Legislative Committee meeting.
During that meeting, a motion was made by Commissioner Chris Taylor (R-District 9) to amend the resolution to state support for the entire Bill of Rights.
After debate on the topic, in front of the 60 or so attendees, the amendment passed without so much as a word of the resolution having been written. Only Commissioner Danny Sullivan (R-District 5) spoke and voted against the proposed amended resolution.
As The Star reported, it took several days for the proposed Bill of Rights Resolution to be released.
For original Second Amendment Sanctuary County Resolution supporters, the substitute resolution was considered watered down and contained language that represented interchangeability between the meaning of rights and privileges.
The commission chambers for Monday night’s meeting was standing room only with about 200 attendees. More than two dozen people signed to up to speak, and only three or four people showed their opposition by wearing Moms Demand Action shirts
Even though speakers from the public were limited to a five minute maximum, public comments still went for nearly two hours.
Most of the speakers were in favor of the Second Amendment Sanctuary County Resolution as originally submitted.
The resolution makes the commitment that no Sumner County resources would be used to enforce or assist in the enforcement of any laws, orders, rules or regulations that would infringe upon people’s rights to keep and bear arms.
Those who opposed that resolution all said they supported the Second Amendment, but thought that there is a place for “common sense” gun laws and that Sumner County has no right to blatantly defy or supersede state law.
When it came time for the commission members to take up the matter for discussion and vote, it was on the alternate Bill of Rights Resolution.
Commissioner Jerry Foster (R-District 4) made a motion to substitute the original Second Amendment Sanctuary County Resolution, which was seconded by the sponsor of that resolution, Commissioner Mansfield.
As the one who suggested the Bill of Rights Resolution, Commissioner Chris Taylor (R-District 9) vehemently offered a lengthy argument in favor of that or a similar resolution, encouraging, “If we’re going to make a statement, make it big.”
Commissioner Mansfield, as a concession to those who were concerned about the ability to withhold resources to the sheriff as a constitutional officer, proposed a one-paragraph severability clause amendment.
There was significant confusion about which resolution the severability clause would apply to, since neither the Bill of Rights nor Second Amendment Sanctuary County Resolution had been adopted yet.
Finally, after about three hours into the meeting, the severability clause amendment passed with 21 yes votes and 1 abstention.
Commissioner Deanne DeWitt (R-District 6) then proposed a new version of the Second Amendment Sanctuary County Resolution. DeWitt’s version cut out the “whereas” clauses that she felt were irrelevant and omitted the commitment of no resources being allocated or appropriated for Second Amendment infringements.
Commissioner Baker Ring (R-District 5), a Gallatin High School teacher of civics, government and economics who had already made his opposition to the resolution known, made a motion to send the matter back to the Legislative Committee he chairs.
The motion failed with only 3 favoring referral back to the Legislative Committee, and 19 voting against that motion.
Further discussion took place on Commissioner DeWitt’s proposed resolution, but adoption of the resolution failed with a vote of 8 in favor and 13 against the measure.
Nearly four hours into the meeting, the commission then finally voted on whether to replace the Bill of Rights Resolution with the Second Amendment Sanctuary County Resolution. That move passed with a vote of 17 in favor and 5 against.
Those opposing the replacement were Commissioners Deanne DeWitt (R-District 6), Loren Echols (R-District 8), Caroline Krueger (R-District 10), Baker Ring (R-District 5) and Chris Taylor (R-District 9).
On the final vote, which adopted the Second Amendment Sanctuary County Resolution, the vote was the same except for Commissioner Chris Taylor who changed his vote to support the measure
The video of the Sumner County Board of Commissioners Meeting of Monday, February 24, 2020, can be found here.
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Laura Baigert is a senior reporter at The Tennessee Star.