The second definition for the word is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as: “a place of refuge and protection” or “relating to or being a locality that provides limited cooperation to federal officials in the enforcement of immigration laws or policies.”
In recent years, this definition has found its way into the American conversation as cities, mostly in “blue” areas, declare themselves as sanctuaries. But more recently, a new concept for the term has been garnering attention in regards to Second Amendment Sanctuary areas.
A Second Amendment Sanctuary, also known as a gun sanctuary, refers to states, counties or localities in the United States that have adopted laws or resolutions to prohibit or impede the enforcement of certain gun control measures perceived as violative of the Second Amendment.”
There are currently four states that have such laws, and 29 states with areas that have sanctuaries, including one in Pennsylvania (Bradford County).
Locally, there is a group organized to petition for Clearfield County to also become a Second Amendment Sanctuary County. The group was organized by Amy and Tank Cutler and they have been circulating petitions and keeping people abreast of the issue via Facebook.
During an interview, the Cutler’s stated that they watched the “frightening events” unfolding in Virginia and “felt called to defend our rights and not allow others to radically diminish our long-standing rights.”
They noted that for many people in the county, guns are both a normal part of life as well as being a part of this area’s heritage – a tradition of safety, protection and provision.
Amy Cutler said that they originally got the idea from Gun Owners of America, which put out a call for volunteers in Pennsylvania for a grassroots movement and she and her husband decided to step forward.
She noted that, in addition to the above statistics, Virginia has had 105 cities and counties become sanctuaries, in response to actions by the state’s legislature.
What would it mean for Clearfield County to become a Second Amendment Sanctuary?
The Cutler’s say it would involve an ordinance protecting people from having unconstitutional laws enforced against them. “It asks the county/municipality to stand between the people and tyranny,” Amy Cutler added.
Their plan is to collect petition signatures, both online and on paper, until early April. At that point, the signatures will be presented to the Clearfield County Commissioners at their first meeting in April.
“This is not Republican versus Democrat, it’s not left against right, this is We the People taking a stand to ensure the U.S. Constitution is upheld,” Amy Cutler said.
The Cutler’s noted that “the Constitution, including the Bill of Rights and Second Amendment, has been in place for over 200 years and the Founding Fathers intended that the people possess the right to be armed for both a general militia as well as self-protection.”
“Tyranny is made possible when the citizens are disarmed,” they added, and making Clearfield County a Second Amendment Sanctuary would preserve “inalienable and constitutional rights as law-abiding citizens” and also give protection from those rights being infringed unconstitutionally.
The online petition can be found at http://chng.it/CnbcBCD6 and there are paper petitions across the county and in numerous businesses.
The Cutler’s also encourage those interested in keeping abreast of matters to join the Facebook group: “Clearfield 2nd Amendment Sanctuary County Ordinance.”
However, according to published media reports, many law experts believe the sanctuary ordinances and resolutions are “largely symbolic” and not “legally binding” because only a court can overturn a state or federal law.
In December, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring wrote in his advisory opinion that such sanctuaries have “no legal effect.” Further, he said the localities “cannot nullify state laws” and must follow the gun laws passed by the General Assembly.
In the Washington Post, Mary B. McCord, a former acting assistant attorney general for national security, wrote: “State constitutions, statutes and common law generally affirm the ‘supremacy’ of federal and state law, meaning that local jurisdictions are preempted from enacting conflicting ordinances and resolutions.”
In correspondence with GANT News, the county commissioners reminded residents that they have always supported the Second Amendment.
In 2013, the commissioners passed resolution 2013-12 reaffirming this support, urging the state governor’s office and legislature as well as the U.S. Congress and President to preserve and protect a citizen’s right to keep and bear arms.
The final paragraph in the resolution states: “… the Clearfield County Commissioners oppose any Federal Act, Bill, rule or executive order that in any way unlawfully infringes or places limitations on the Second Amendment right under the U.S. Constitution as well as any infringement on Article 1 [section] 21 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.745”