Take the holistic approach to the Constitution

Johnson City Press • Jan 18, 2020 at 9:20 AM

The Washington County Commission’s Public Safety Committee jumped on the bandwagon last week.

Its members, urged by former lawman Kent Harris, made the symbolic gesture du jour and advanced a Second Amendment Sanctuary resolution.

There are two basic versions of this same general principle going around, one that prohibits cities and counties from spending public money to enforce gun laws running counter to the U.S. Constitution, and a less-toothy version that allows the governing bodies to proclaim their support for the Second Amendment without actually making any commitments.

Harris’ is the latter. It quotes our federal and state constitutions — including a strangely irrelevant section of the state constitution that calls peacetime armies dangerous to freedom — and asks federal and state legislators to not support legislation that infringes on our right to keep and bear arms.

With conservatives in control of 2.5 out of the three branches of the federal government and an all-out, supermajority domination of state politics, we believe that right is safe for us right now.

Harris told the Safety Committee he was worried anti-gun sentiments could somehow jump across the state line from Virginia where the General Assembly flipped to Democratic control in the last election. That’s not very likely.

The conservative firewall of Southwest Virginia should protect us from any liberal contagion for the time being.

Like our local leaders in Washington, Carter, Unicoi and Sullivan counties who have voted for Second Amendment Sanctuary resolutions, we strongly support the rights outlined in our nation’s Constitution. But why are you so fixated on the Second Amendment?

Is our right to bear arms more important than our rights to free speech or the free press in the First Amendment?

The founders didn’t think so.

Thomas Jefferson said, “the only security of all is in a free press.” John Adams said, “the liberty of the press is essential to the security of the state.”

Benjamin Franklin said public liberty could not exist without free speech.

Why not pass a resolution in support of the entire Constitution, from the big “We the People” at the top, down to the 26th Amendment locking in representatives’ pay until after an election?

Truthfully, we know these Second Amendment Sanctuary resolutions are pandering to voters. Elected officials can boast about their support for gun rights, and none will dare vote against them for fear of being accused of wanting to take our guns.

We’d like to see one of Washington County’s commissioners call the bluff, though and amend this resolution to support the whole founding document. Make our officials show where their priorities lie.

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