RALEIGH — Three North Carolina counties declared themselves supporters of gun rights this week, adding to the list of so-called Second Amendment sanctuaries across the state and the country.
Commissioners in Lincoln, Surry and Wilkes counties in Western North Carolina voted to defend gun ownership, according to news reports and government documents.
Local government leaders across the country have passed Second Amendment sanctuary resolutions. Many times, the moves are symbolic and show that officials plan to defy state or federal efforts to restrict gun rights, McClatchy newspapers have reported.
In Virginia, several counties and towns officially backed gun rights just before Democrats were set to gain control of the state government on Wednesday, USA Today reports.
The votes this week in North Carolina come after Cherokee and Rutherford counties, also in the mountains, became sanctuaries for gun rights in 2019, according to Asheville's WLOS-Channel 13 and other news outlets.
Near Charlotte, all but one of the Lincoln County commissioners were in favor of a resolution that said it would refuse to "enforce any new restrictions on gun ownership," according to Charlotte's WSOC-Channel 9.
A report from Charlotte TV station WCNC says the decision was unanimous.
In Surry County, northwest of Winston-Salem, officials voted 5-0 to refuse to use government resources to take guns away from people who follow the law, its resolution shows.
And to the west, another unanimous vote means the Wilkes County government is "opposing any efforts" to restrict gun rights, according to leaders.
Second Amendment sanctuaries are similar in name to sanctuary cities, municipalities that won't cooperate with federal immigration agents.
At least one North Carolina county has distanced itself from that phrasing.
"Our intent is to draw a clear distinction between sanctuary cities that protect criminal illegal aliens and the process of protecting Second Amendment rights," Mark Jones, chairman of the Surry County Republican Party, told the Mount Airy News.
A similar resolution was tabled in Pender County, north of Wilmington, Port City Daily reported in April. There had been "a contentious debate" between elected leaders and local residents, according to the newspaper.
In North Carolina, proponents of the Cherokee measure said it protected rights outlined in the Constitution. Opponents said they wished county commissioners "felt as strongly about healthcare for everyone," The Charlotte Observer reported.