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Editorial: County’s resolution only signals commission’s principles

Many people in Salisbury and Rowan had a similar reaction after commissioners made our county the latest in North Carolina to pass a resolution standing up for the Second Amendment.

“Thank you, commissioners,” most said.

In a red county, it was an expected reaction. Even with a GOP-controlled N.C. General Assembly, Republican-majority U.S. Senate, conservative U.S. Supreme Court and Republican president, Second Amendment advocates have worried in recent months that a movement in Virginia could spread to the Tar Heel State.

To our north, Democrats have taken control of the state legislature, introduced gun-control legislation and made inflammatory statements about enforcing those proposals if they become law. It’s prompted rural counties like Rowan to speak up and let their pro-Second Amendment position be known.

But a number of Salisbury Post readers had another reaction after we posted our story online about last week’s vote: What does this mean?

Mostly, it’s a ceremonial gesture — reminding Rowan County’s state and federal legislators of something they already knew. State Sen. Carl Ford, a China Grove Republican, doesn’t need a resolution to know that a majority of local voters feel strongly about their rights to own guns and are worried about those rights being taken away. The same is true for Republican Reps. Harry Warren, Julia Howard and Larry Pittman and the county’s two congressmen — Ted Budd and Richard Hudson.

The resolution is red meat for the Republican-controlled commission’s red base. While Republicans aren’t the only ones who care deeply about Second Amendment rights, you won’t find today many who loudly advocate for the same gun control proposals championed by Democrats.

Rowan’s resolution states that it opposes, within limits of the N.C. and U.S. constitutions, efforts to restrict Second Amendment rights and “implores” Congress and the state legislature to protect rights of law-abiding citizens.

It does not set new policy or change any ordinances, as some nearby counties have done in their resolutions. Commissioners in 2013 already passed a policy other counties are now endorsing.

On Feb. 4, 2013, commissioners reacted former President Barack Obama’s gun-related initiatives by passing a resolution directing then-Manager Gary Page to prevent county staff from participating in or allowing resources to be used in the implementation or enforcement of “any unconstitutional law, executive order or executive directive that infringe on the God-Given right to self-defense.” That directive includes everyone from secretaries to sheriff’s deputies.

In the same meeting, commissioners approved a separate resolution that asked the state legislature to pass legislation exempting handgun purchase and concealed carry permits from public records laws.

If commissioners wanted to ensure the public knows of the 2013 resolution, they could follow up on their Friday vote by passing a measure endorsing the same language with a new manager — Aaron Church — in place. The intent of Friday’s resolution, however, is only for Rowan County commissioners to signal their principles to Second Amendment advocates.

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