Last week, Kaufman County commissioners voted to name Kaufman County a “Second Amendment Sanctuary City” after the issue was brought before them by the Kaufman County Republican Party.
Kaufman County Republican Party Chairman Jimmy Weaver appeared at the meeting of the commissioners court on Nov. 12 to voice his support for the declaration.
“I think in light of all of the things that are going on publicly in the state and the federal government, we just need to give all of the support that we can to our state elected officials,” Weaver said. “This is not a bill or anything like that, it’s more of a solidarity to support our state leaders.”
The commissioners voted unanimously to approve the resolution with no discussion after Precinct 3 commissioner Terry Barber read it aloud. Their vote follows a growing trend among rural counties across Texas who have been naming themselves “second amendment sanctuaries.” In a Texas Monthly article published earlier this year, the publication cited seven different counties who had given themselves the distinction since July 2018, with declarations increasing in number following the announcement of former Democratic presidential candidate (and Texas congressman) Beto O’Rourke’s support of a mandatory buyback program for assault weapons.
Kaufman County’s specific resolution reads “Due to the dual sovereignty of the Constitution, the federal government has no authority to enforce state laws and states cannot be compelled to enforce federal laws. The last protectors of the United States Constitution are the county sheriffs and we the people of the United States of America. Our ability to fulfill that role successfully rests on our second amendment rights. Any regulation that violates the Bill of Rights to the Constitution of the United States shall be regarded by the people of Kaufman County to be unconstitutional and therefore unenforceable and invalid.”
The resolution cites multiple Supreme Court decisions including U.S. vs. Miller (1939), Miranda vs. Arizona (1966), Printz vs. United States (1997), The District of Columbia vs. Hellar (2008), and McDonald vs. the City of Chicago (2010) as well as the 10th and 14th amendments to the U.S. Constitution to form the foundation of the declaration. Printz vs. United States is particularly pertinent as the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government could not force local sheriffs to provide background checks.
Currently there are no federal or state gun regulation laws that Kaufman County or any of the other Second Amendment Sanctuary Counties have deemed unconstitutional, and it’s unclear exactly how these areas will respond if any such laws are passed. Some counties have considered drafting similar resolutions but decided against them under legal counsel. The Big Bend Sentinel reported that Jeff Davis County killed its own proposal after receiving legal counsel. The Texas County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas James Allison told county leaders that “Texas counties have no authority to create a ‘sanctuary’ for or against weapons” and that counties should be sure that their resolutions avoid any specific actions or consequences that “imply legal effect.”
The term “sanctuary city” is most commonly associated with municipalities that limit local officials’ cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs enforcement. Like second amendment sanctuary counties, these municipalities also cite the 10th Amendment as the basis of their declarations. However, these types of sanctuary cities are outlawed in Texas and U.S. Rep Lance Gooden, whose jurisdiction includes Kaufman County, has introduced national legislation to defund them.
As of press time there had been 34,618 gun-related deaths in the United States so far in 2019, including 372 mass shootings.