PHOENIX - The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday approved a resolution declaring the county a "sanctuary" for gun rights.
La Paz, Yavapai, and Mohave Counties have already taken action, declaring their respective counties "Second Amendment Sanctuaries" and passing resolutions saying county resources won’t be used to limit gun rights.
On the municipal level, the City of Prescott tabled a similar measure earlier in February, after a heated debate.
The chairman of the Board, Clint Hickman, fast-tracked the resolution.
"The good guys feel they need to make sure that they never have their rights infringed on arming themselves to protect their property, their homes, and their family," said Hickman, who is from Wickenburg.
The resolution is considered to be more symbolic in nature, a signal that the 2nd Amendment is sacred in Maricopa County, at a time when sanctuary cities are popping up in the immigration debate, and at a time when gun owners are afraid their rights might be stripped away.
"The board is making its voice clear that it opposes any efforts to take away 2nd Amendment rights, and do what is necessary in the future, including ordinances," said Ren Ramsey.
Gallardo Asks for More Time to Consider Ordinance
At the last moment, a portion of the resolution, namely the part where the county says it will not use any resources that do not support the 2nd Amendment, was removed.
The removal, however, was not enough for Steve Gallardo, who cast the only "no" vote.
Gallardo asked for more time to consider the ordinance.
"How insensitive to adopt something like that without even talking about the true cause of gun violence," said Gallardo.
Public allowed to comment, but only after the vote
The Board Chairman did not wait to adopt the resolution, and even pushed back public comment until after the vote. Opinions expressed during the public comment period became moot points, falling on deaf years.
"I think there should have been public comment before the vote," said Laura Hudson with Moms Against Gun Violence. "This is not the reflection of the majority of Arizonans."
Maricopa County Sheriff Responds
Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone has released a statement on the resolution, which reads:
“As the Sheriff of Maricopa County, I have a responsibility to defend our Constitution, keep our community safe, and ensure the rights of all citizens are protected. The core of my authority is the U.S. Constitution and its Amendments, which include the Second Amendment. I pledge to always protect the rights of lawful citizens to bear arms. I also pledge to protect and prioritize the safety of families and children from violence and harm.
The original resolution put forth at today's Board of Supervisor meeting went beyond simply affirming the Second Amendment. It was potentially in conflict with current law enforcement operations and our ability to keep the community safe from persons who seek to do harm. Unfortunately, no one sought law enforcement expertise or input from my office on the original resolution, which could have potentially prohibited law enforcement from intervening in harmful situations to save precious lives or put them at risk of costly litigation for following the laws of our land.
Our democracy was designed to incorporate due process to write new laws and eliminate ineffective or unconstitutional laws. Denying, ignoring or refusing to recognize and apply the laws as they are written is not within the authority of law enforcement professionals. Terms such as Second Amendment Preservation or ‘Sanctuary’ become an excuse to circumvent the law and defy due process and democracy. We must adhere to the Constitution when it meets our principles and values, and as importantly when it is in conflict. This is the basis of a nation founded in respect for the rule of law.
As a career law enforcement professional and the elected Sheriff, I will never allow a political resolution to supersede existing law or interfere with my responsibility and my duty to constitutionally enforce the law. We owe it to our children to keep them safe and to protect our democratic government.”
With the resolution's passage, Maricopa County is now the largest county in the U.S. to pass such a sanctuary resolution.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.