Catawba County is considering declaring itself a “constitutional rights protected county” to support the right to bear arms, following the path of many counties in North Carolina, including neighboring Lincoln County.
Some residents of Catawba County already support the consideration. “I believe We the People need to stand up for our rights,” Debbie Dickey said. “The people of Catawba County will not tolerate unconstitutional gun laws.”
Dickey, a 40-year Catawba County resident, started a petition titled “Make Catawba County a 2nd amendment sanctuary county” after following the news of proposed gun control laws in Virginia.
The petition has been signed more than 4,500 times and can be found online.
"Our forefathers fought against this and this is our God-given rights,” Dickey said. “All government officials were elected by the people to uphold the law of our country. If we don’t take a stand, we are just setting ourselves up to have all our rights removed.”
Several counties passed resolutions recently to support the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and condemn limitations to those rights to gun ownership. As counties around Catawba passed those resolutions, Catawba County commissioners heard support for Catawba County to do the same, Catawba County Board of Commissioners Chairman Randy Isenhower said.
“I think our good conservative counties around us are doing it and we want to support it, too,” Isenhower said.
Not all are in favor of the resolution. Kim Bost, a Democrat running for Catawba County's state house seat, said she doesn't see how a local resolution matters when it comes to a right already protected by the U.S. Constitution.
"To me, such declarations seem unnecessary and maybe divert time and energy of local governments," she said. "I think we could spend time doing better things."
Lincoln County was one of the first in the area to pass a resolution supporting Second Amendment rights. Their resolution states that the county won’t use its resources to enforce any laws that infringe on those rights, Lincoln County Board of Commissioners Chairman Carrol Mitchem said.
“I think the biggest fear of people is at some point in time is that they (governmental bodies) want to take their guns eventually,” Mitchem said.
The Second Amendment support resolutions stem from proposed gun control laws in Virginia that are catching national attention. Mitchem said Lincoln and other North Carolina counties want to show they oppose increased regulations that infringe on constitutional rights.
“Actually, in the long run, it sends a statement to the state and maybe to federal (government) that Lincoln County is going to stand by the Constitution,” he said.
Isenhower said Catawba County is looking to do the same thing. He drafted a proposed resolution to protect constitutional rights that the board will review and vote on at their Jan. 21 meeting.
“(The resolution) proposes that we solely recognize the rights of our citizens under the constitution including the Second Amendment,” Isenhower said.
The Catawba County resolution pulls from several in the state, he said. It also includes Catawba County’s own sentiment that individual rights should be protected, Isenhower said.
“The resolution says … what I think is ingrained in this county,” he said. “Catawba County citizens have long respected individual rights.”
The resolution also states that the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office and the county will not use public funds or resources to restrict those rights. It does not enact any new rules or laws.
Catawba County Sheriff Donald Brown supports the resolution, according to a statement from his office.
Isenhower said he’s heard a lot of support in the community for the resolution. “I think certainly what we want to do is promote and be cognizant of the will of the citizens,” Isenhower said.
The Catawba County Board of Commissioners meets Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Catawba County Justice Center at 100 Government Drive, Newton in the board of commissioners meeting room on the second floor. The proposed Second Amendment resolution is set to be discussed at the meeting.