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Rowan County commissioners pass Second Amendment resolution

SALISBURY — It wasn’t a hard decision, according to Rowan County Commissioners Chairman Greg Edds.

In a unanimous vote on Friday, Rowan became the latest North Carolina county to pass a measure referred to as a “Second Amendment sanctuary” resolution. Already, county commissioners in Lincoln, Surry and Wilkes counties have passed similar resolutions. Nearby Davidson, Iredell, Randolph and Alexander counties are considering doing the same, according to media reports.

Rowan’s resolution was brought up for consideration just before commissioners adjourned a planning retreat. It stated, in part, the right of individuals “to keep and bear arms is under attack” in the United States, that the illegal misuse of firearms is not a reason to infringe upon the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens and that Rowan County commissioners are opposed to any law, regulation or other act that would unconstitutionally infringe on Second Amendment rights. It also contained language from the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Article 1, Section 30 of the N.C. Constitution.

“We are for the lawful use of firearms and do not in any way defend unlawful use,” Edds said before the vote. “This is an easy thing for us. Rowan County wants to be a community that values our right to self-defense.”

Edds’ comment came immediately after Commissioner Judy Klusman spoke up about domestic violence. A study published in the America Journal of Public Health in 2003 found that a domestic abuser’s access to a firearm significantly increases the chances that a woman will be killed.

“I want to make very clear to friends that work in the domestic violence area that, if someone is convicted of domestic violence and the judge orders removal of all firearms, that would still be legal,” said Klusman, who voted for the measure Friday.

Friday was the second time in recent years commissioners have passed a resolution in support of the Second Amendment. On Feb. 4, 2013, and in response to “anti-gun initiatives” announced by then-President Barack Obama, commissioners passed a measure saying they would “not bow down to unconstitutional laws, executive orders or foreign/domestic tyranny.” In the resolution, commissioners called on the North Carolina General Assembly to pass legislation guaranteeing the “God-given right to self-defense” and directed the county manager to prevent staff from using county resources to enforce “any unconstitutional law, executive order or executive directive that infringe on the God-given right to self-defense.”

But the latest trend is prompted by a change in partisan control in the Virginia legislature, said Rowan County Commissioner Mike Caskey, who introduced the measure on Friday. Caskey specifically pointed to a statement by Virginia state Rep. Donald McEachin, a Democrat, who told the Washington Examiner in December that the state’s governor may have to “nationalize the National Guard” to enforce future gun-control legislation.

Caskey and other commissioners said they received requests from dozens of people, mostly through email, who asked that the county pass a resolution. A private Facebook group called “Make Rowan County a 2nd Amendment Sanctuary” also amassed nearly 5,000 members by Friday morning.

Caskey posted in the group, “We have always taken the right of the people to keep and bear arms very seriously.”

Prior to Friday’s passage, he said the resolution represented a continuation of action taken by county commissioners “going back to the start of the county.” Caskey referenced the 2013 resolution as well as a decision in 2014 to allow concealed carry in county office buildings.

The resolution doesn’t create any new local laws or ordinances, instead “telling folks what the county stands on,” Edds said. Asked whether the county intended to abide by laws it thought were unconstitutional, Commissioner Craig Pierce said Rowan County was a subdivision of the state.

“Whatever the state says, we have to adhere to,” Pierce said.

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