With the Virginia legislature in the national spotlight for several gun safety laws moving through the Democrat-controlled House and Senate, and with Georgia also considering a “red flag law,” local government officials are looking at ways to protect the gun rights of their residents.
In north Georgia, the Habersham County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution Jan. 20 to make the county a “Second Amendment Sanctuary County.” The resolution prohibits the county sheriff from enforcing any unconstitutional firearms law against a county resident.
Habersham is the first Georgia county to vote itself as a Second Amendment Sanctuary, but Butts County may not be far behind in following suit. Both Sheriff Gary Long and Butts County Commission Chairman Kenneth Rivers have expressed their beliefs that such gun restrictions violate the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
“The job of the sheriff is to protect the rights of the people,” Long said in a Facebook post. “If you look what is happening in Virginia, it is a clear violation of the 2nd Amendment. Even though we live in Georgia, we have to be proactive to ensure this never happens to us.
“As long as I am sheriff, no one will ever strip the law abiding citizens of their rights to keep and bear arms. If they try, I will stand shoulder to shoulder with the citizens to protect our rights!”
Rivers posted a similar statement on his Facebook page.
“Whenever I turn on the news and hear the words ‘gun control,’ all I hear is someone is once again trying to violate our rights given to us by the U.S. Constitution. I think there is work that can be done on the local level to stop this from ever happening in Butts County.”
Rivers told the Progress-Argus that he plans to have a resolution similar to the one approved in Habersham County ready for discussion by the Board of Commissioners at their work session on Feb. 4.
“I’m a strong supporter of the 2nd amendment and will do what I can at the county level to see that those rights are not infringed upon,” Rivers said. “I have a copy of the resolution that the Habersham BOC passed and I have given it to our attorney for review. I plan to have the resolution on the February workshop agenda for discussion. The Sheriff and I have been in communication and he is willing to work with us on crafting this resolution for Butts County. It is important for us to be proactive.”
There are also bills in the Georgia General Assembly addressing the issue of gun safety and protecting the 2nd Amendment.
Dist. 80 State Rep. Matthew Wilson (D-Brookhaven) last year introduced a red-flag bill (HB 435) that would have allowed family members or law enforcement officers to petition a judge to remove guns from potentially dangerous individuals — people who’ve made explicit threats, have mental health issues or have inflicted self harm. It never made it out of the House, but could be brought up again this session.
Meanwhile Dist. 131 State Rep. Ken Pullin (R-Zebulon) has introduced a measure to restrict any potential red-flag gun laws from being enacted. He is calling the measure the “Anti-Red Flag — Second Amendment Conservation Act.” It would make it illegal to enforce red flag laws in Georgia, establishing a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a $5,000 fine.