OGDEN — Stemming from apparent concerns among some about a possible crackdown on gun ownership, Weber County Commissioners have declared the county a Second Amendment “sanctuary.”
“There are genuine concerns out there with people fearing the federal government is going to enact a law that allows confiscation of guns,” said Weber County Sheriff Ryan Arbon, who helped craft the resolution.
The tangible impact of the measure isn’t crystal clear. Weber County joins Utah, Wayne and Uintah counties in Utah in declaring sanctuary status with regard to gun laws, according to press reports. Arbon, though, said passage of the resolution sends a message that Weber County is solidly behind protecting gun rights as outlined in the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Law enforcement officials across the country typically take an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution, including the Second Amendment, but gun rights defenders in some U.S. locales question the commitment of their law enforcement reps to the issue, Arbon said. “I believe that they want something more, to say, ‘You said, you promised.’ I do believe that this is good in that it’ll bring peace to those that are worried about it,” said Arbon, who helped craft the measure and backs it.
In introducing the resolution at Tuesday’s Weber County Commission meeting, Commissioner Jim Harvey said it had been in the works for about a year. “I want to thank Sheriff Arbon. He’s assured me that his office will be our guardians of the Constitution and our guardians of the Second Amendment rights,” he said.
In addressing the matter, County Commissioner Gage Froerer alluded to comments earlier on in Tuesday’s meeting from some residents worried the government was taking a heavy-handed approach in implementing measures meant as safeguards against the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Several spoke out on the issue during the meeting’s public comment section.
“We heard this morning some (members of the) public describe possible infringement upon personal rights. I think this gives us an opportunity for the county to be forward-thinking and making sure that the public totally understands that when it comes to personal freedoms, that the county cannot take a back seat, that we have to protect those individual rights,” Froerer said. “This gives us, in whatever way, whether it’s a small way or a large way, at least the public knowledge that we’re here supporting individual rights.”
Commissioner Scott Jenkins also referenced the members of the public who had earlier addressed the officials. “I’m grateful for the Constitution, the Bill of Rights. I’m grateful for patriots who feel their responsibility to address us, of those who represent them in government. And as a result of that, I feel it is a privilege today to be able to vote on this resolution,” Jenkins said.
The commissioners didn’t delve into the issues that spurred the resolution. But Arbon, reached after Tuesday’s meeting, said he thinks the most immediate concerns among some Second Amendment defenders stem from the move to the administration of President Joe Biden, a Democrat. “I think that’s the basis of the concerns,” Arbon said.
He himself doesn’t see any restrictions immediately on the horizon, though. “As far as a direct, imminent threat, I’m not seeing it,” Arbon said.
Per the resolution, commissioners vow not to use public funds to unlawfully restrict gun rights and voice opposition to unconstitutional restrictions on gun rights. Being a Second Amendment sanctuary, the resolution reads, means rights to bear arms and use them in self-defense “are supported.”
Brady: United Against Gun Violence, the gun violence prevention group, takes a dim view of Second Amendment sanctuary status.
“Ultimately, ‘2nd Amendment sanctuary’ resolutions are purely symbolic and have no legal weight — and many state officials are making this clear,” the group’s website reads. It goes on to warn that resolutions in some sanctuary locales “are built entirely upon a tightly held and inaccurate belief that common-sense gun safety laws are unconstitutional.”
Among those criticizing COVID-19 safety guidelines earlier during Tuesday’s meeting was Carolyn Lietuvininkas of North Ogden. She said she was infected twice by the COVID-19 virus.
“I’m walking, standing right here. I think this has been overblown and it’s been used as a pretense to take our rights away,” she said.