PRESCOTT, Ariz. - Two more rural Arizona counties have declared themselves to be “Second Amendment sanctuary counties,” taking stances in favor of gun rights even as some supporters of the measures acknowledge they'll have no or little real legal effect.
The unanimous votes by the boards of supervisors of La Paz County on Monday and Yavapai County on Wednesday follow a similar declaration by Mohave County supervisors on Nov. 4.
The Yavapai County board approved its resolution after previously hearing hours of testimony in December and January. About 120 people packed the meeting room and dozens more filled the lobby Wednesday as 25 people spoke in favor and three against, The Daily Courier reported.
Under the measures, the supervisors vowed to defend state and federal constitutional rights, including the U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment.
The measure also said the supervisors won't spend public money or use other government resources to enforce laws that unconstitutionally infringe on gun rights.
Many of those who addressed the Yavapai County board urged the supervisors to take a stand, arguing that laws in other states infringed on gun owners' rights.
“We see this type of total disregard for our Second Amendment rights under attack. This is about our rights, protecting our freedoms and liberty," Prescott resident Sherrie Hanna said.
Another supporter, Chris Kuknyo allowed that “a resolution has no teeth” but said it “sends a message to our governor and other people that we won’t tolerate it, and we will fight against it.”
Prescott resident Ralph Hess, a retired Superior Court judge, questioned whether the resolution was needed and how county officials would decide what gun measure is unconstitutional.
“As you know, constitutionality of laws is determined by courts, not by boards of supervisors, not by county attorneys, not by county sheriffs and not by Second Amendment ‘sanctuary county’ advocates,” Hess said. “Until a court determines a law to be unconstitutional, your oaths bind you to authorize or appropriate the use of county resources for the purpose of enforcing that law.”
Board Chairman Craig Brown agreed that the resolution was more about making a statement than it was about legal impacts.
“Practically, in a legal sense, not really, I don’t believe (the resolution would have an effect). According to our lawyer, the resolution is just that. It’s the board making a statement, and we will continue that statement," Brown said.
An aide to U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, a Republican who represents much of western Arizona, told the La Paz County board in a letter read by a Gosar aide that adoption of Second Amendment sanctuaries is an example of the constitutional process at work.
Gosar also said violence is the result of societal breakdown and should not be blamed on legal gun owners, Today's News-Herald reported.