/ Letters / Second Amendment Sanctuaries jeopardize public safety

Second Amendment Sanctuaries jeopardize public safety

April 17, 2020

To the Editor:

Deeming themselves “Second Amendment Sanctuaries,” many local governments throughout the country are passing resolutions declaring or implying that state gun safety laws do not apply in their communities, that they are unconstitutional. Some of the resolutions go so far as refusing to enforce any state gun control laws, even before such laws are enacted. Some refuse to expend resources for state gun safety measures. These resolutions jeopardize public safety by interfering with the implementation of life-saving gun control laws. 

Oneida County is currently considering adopting a Second Amendment resolution and may be voting on it at their next board meeting (March 17) or perhaps at their April meeting.

The decision of local governments to exercise their power in this manner is disheartening, and a serious threat to public safety. These resolutions are also out of step with the public’s widespread support for sensible gun safety laws. Although there are important areas where Americans disagree on guns, large majorities of both gun owners and non-gun owners strongly support measures to strengthen U.S. gun laws.

As one of the majority of Americans who support common sense gun legislation, as well as lawful uses of firearms, I oppose the passing of a 2A Sanctuary resolution for Oneida County.

Despite what the gun lobby may say, sensible gun laws do not threaten Second Amendment rights. They only make us all safer, including gun owners themselves, many of whom die as a result of suicide and unintentional shootings. In 2018, 598 people in Wisconsin died due to firearms. We must use evidence-based solutions, like stronger gun laws, as well as programs proven to prevent suicide, homicide, and accidental shootings. 

Perhaps most directly at risk are victims of domestic violence, where the presence of firearms makes it more likely that a domestic violence victim will become a homicide victim. Victims rely on their local governments and law enforcement agencies to help enforce protective orders, including orders to an abuser to surrender a firearm.

It is the responsibility of our courts, not local governments, to decide a law’s constitutionality. In fact, the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s majority opinion in the District of Columbia v. Heller case (2008) said, "Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited ... (It is) not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” No one should assume that any new gun control legislation is automatically unconstitutional.

Although Second Amendment Sanctuary proclamations are largely symbolic, they are nonetheless indicators of how community officials are choosing to allocate resources. If local governments are willing to become Second Amendment Sanctuaries, they may not invest adequate resources to enforce court orders and similar safety measures.

If local leaders truly want to protect their constituents and also uphold the Constitution, they should enforce sensible and constitutional gun safety laws. 

Petra Pietrzak


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