Fiscal court adopts resolution to be a 2nd Amendment Sanctuary

Published 1:13 pm Thursday, January 16, 2020

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STANFORD — The conversation on gun control has been reignited across the country and Tuesday, here in Kentucky, the issue produced one of the largest crowds at a Lincoln County Fiscal Court meeting in quite some time.

Several Lincoln County citizens spoke on behalf of the dozens in attendance, voicing their desire to have the right to keep and bear arms preserved.

In a unanimous decision, the Lincoln County Fiscal Court passed a resolution declaring itself a Second Amendment Sanctuary County, making it the latest municipality in the U.S. to adopt a measure in which it expressed it would defend  the rights of the citizens of Lincoln County to keep and bear arms and to “oppose, within the limits of the Constitution of the United States and the Commonwealth of Kentucky, any efforts to unconstitutionally restrict such rights.”

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“I’m an elected official for you. It’s not necessarily what I want but it’s what my district wants,” said Lonnie Pruitt, Magistrate District 2. “I’ve yet to have anybody call me and say we want to do away with the 2nd Amendment. I’ve had people call and ask how I felt about it. I served in the military to protect our country. I think you should have the right to protect your home and your family.”

David Faulkner, Magistrate District 1, agreed.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re a liberal or a conservative. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve got an ‘R’ or a ‘D’ or a Green or whatever it is. The Constitution of the United States 2nd Amendment says we’ve got the right to bear arms. It’s real simple,” he said before making the motion to adopt the resolution.

There was no lack of a second after the motion, with the court’s other three magistrates – Pruitt, Jeff Ruckel, District 3, and Joe Stanley, District 4 – chiming in with seconds.

Before the motion was made or a single vote cast, local citizens expressed their concerns over the 2nd Amendment being infringed upon. Each person wishing to speak had to sign in before the meeting.

Barbara Hodges, the first person to address the court, presented a poignant story to convey her concerns. She took the court and crowd back to August of 2018, relating an instance in her son Dustin’s life.

“I want to make it very clear that I think it (2nd Amendment) should never be infringed with anything and I’ll tell you why,” she began. “I have a son, Jeff (Ruckel) you know my son Dustin. He grew up here and moved out on his own when he was barely 21. My husband taught him how to hunt. He knew very well how to use firearms. We urged him to get a concealed carry (Concealed Carry Weapons Permit), which he did. He didn’t think he needed it.”

Dustin soon settled into a one-bedroom apartment in Lexington. He kept his gun in his vehicle, however, growing fear prompted him to start keeping it in his apartment.

“On Aug. 8, 2018 …. now I didn’t know before that time that there was a grown man, in his 30’s, that started harassing him,” Hodges said. “He was harassing a lot of the residents. He had especially decided to pick on my son. My son is 130 pounds soaking wet. And he started threatening him. This went on for a month. And finally one day he said to my son, ‘You’re going to be dead by this weekend.’”

“Everybody heard him say this. Then one day, Aug. 8, 2018, he had stolen keys from the apartment manager and he opened the door to my son’s apartment at 6 o’clock in the morning. It was an efficiency apartment and my son was in bed and he heard the locks turning and he sat up. Right before that he had told us he was scared. He took his gun, which he kept in the trunk of his car, and set it next to his bed and he chambered it. When the guy came in, he looked at my son and he shut the door and he locked it back. Locked himself inside the apartment with my son. My son said in defending himself, he got up and grabbed the gun and he put four slugs in his chest.”

Turning to face the court, Hodges repeated that it took four slugs to take the guy down.

“…. found out later that he was high on methamphetamine and cocaine,” she said. “Nothing ever came out because it was self-defense. My son was traumatized. Had he not had that gun. Had he not had a concealed weapon, he’d be dead. It’s sad that it happened but it’s our story. It’s a real story.”

It was after Hodges’ retelling of her story that the court was presented the resolution. Henry James, a veteran, brought the resolution forward as he spoke to the court.

“I’ve been picked as a leader of this county for leading the 2nd Amendment Sanctuary,” James said as he stepped to the front. “We, as the people here, are wanting to be sure that our 2nd Amendment rights will always be here for us, as it was by our forefathers as they put in writing. There have been a lot of challenges by other states. I know they’re wanting to change it. We don’t want that to happen. We believe in the freedom to protect ourselves, to go hunting and to use it as sport, these weapons. There’s no need to change anything about it at all.”

James had more than just the few dozen people who filled the courtroom in the courthouse conveying their approval of the resolution. He had hundreds more citizens making their approval known in ink.

“We’ve got over 1,000 signatures of people who approve of this .… We want you all to know what’s going on and how we feel about it, so I brought a paper here to sign for Lincoln County to be a Sanctuary County for the 2nd Amendment,” James said.

James said that societal changes lead to an increasing need to preserve individuals 2nd Amendment rights.

“As you heard, people, like her son, if it wasn’t for that, he probably wouldn’t be here,” he said. “These days, the way people are on drugs and everything, breaking in homes, hurting people or trying to kill people and stealing stuff, you have to have something to defend yourself with. I know that for a fact myself when people have been trying to break into my home, my vehicle and things like that. I had to run them off.”

Elevated drug use in modern day makes it even harder for people to defend themselves, noted James.

“As an experience over there in Iraq, a lot of them would get high on drugs and stuff and then they’d attack you. You could shoot them one time and they’d still be coming at you. The drugs in them, it just keeps them pumping, I guess. Her son was very lucky. Four shots to take that man down. That’s sometimes what it takes but you have to defend yourself,” he said. “A baseball bat would have never done it. I can tell you right now that you can hit them with a baseball bat or whatever and it will never stop them. People believe that’s all you need. No, it isn’t. Used to you’d think people could live safely just by locking their doors. Anymore these days, they just break your door in and come in while you’re sitting there on the couch and rob you right there. It doesn’t matter if it’s day time or night time.”

Freddie York, another military veteran, took the floor after James.

“I served for the United States and a lot of us have served for the rights we talk about today that Congress passed,” he said. “We shouldn’t have to be here. Those are the laws, but they are getting infringed upon. I don’t know who the opposition is but they’ve probably never been faced with some issues that someone has had.”

York quickly googled infringed to clarify the term for anyone unsure of its meaning and read, “infringed simply states that an activity breaking the terms of a law or agreement, etc.”

“Who’s breaking the law? We want to go about it legally,” York said. “I’ve had a conceal carry for 15 years. I’m a law-abiding citizen. If I get pulled over, that’s pretty much what comes up first on the computer these days. They want to know if I’m a conceal carry. I’m not trying to sneak around something.”

“Personally I don’t agree with concealed carry without training, but that’s my own opinion. I think we should support what the congress passed years ago. It’s not our right or no one …. I don’t see that any one person has the right to infringe upon that.”

During his turn to speak, Ray Petrey voiced concern over the red flag law. In the United States, a red flag law is a gun control law that permits police or family members to petition a state court to order the temporary removal of firearms from a person who may present a danger to others or themselves.

“I’m afraid there’s going to be something that’s going to be back-door infringement and that’s called red flag law. Granted, there are people that do need to be controlled in that type situation. But what if it’s not a real situation?” he asked. “I’ve seen it happen and I’ve seen people, ex-wives, ex-girlfriends …. There must be some sort of relief.”

“Myself, I’ve got a very expensive hunting rifle. Not got a scratch on it and been around 50 or 60 years. I’d hate to see it come back – even though I know I’d get it back – from a red flag confiscation and it look like somebody throwed it in the back of a pick-up truck and drove around for a week or two. That’s basically what’s going to happen. We’re going to have to protect, not only the right but the property of these people.”

“Happens all the time. If it’s not a real situation, what about the people that are reporting? Are they going to have to suffer any consequences?”

Although not on the sign-up list, Saley Harris raised his hand when Judge Executive Jim W. Adams Jr., asked if anyone else wished to speak.

“First of all, I want to thank you for your service,” said Harris to veterans in attendance. “The Constitution still stands today and we’re here today to protect and discuss a great right. The Constitution is not something that we can just decide that, ‘I don’t like it.’ People here in Lincoln County, if you walk down the (courthouse) hall here and look at all the pictures. There are some people on that wall that you know went off to foreign lands to fight for the very rights that we’re talking about. Some of them didn’t make it back.”

“I’d hate to think that just because a few people that’s way away from here that’s putting lots of money to change. I don’t know. I’m not a smart person but I believe that the Constitution still stands as it did then. We’re not asking anybody to pass anything that’s already there. We just want everybody to be aware that, as a country, as a community, we’re just wanting to continue to have a right – to say, ‘Lincoln County, we’re for the 2nd Amendment and leave us be.’ Basically, that’s what we’re asking you all to do.”

Before the court closed the floor to comments, Jared Wooten voiced his opinion on gun laws.

“I just want to say, look at all the gun laws that are already in place in some of the bigger cities, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York. You look at all those gun laws and then you look at the crime rate. The crime rate is way higher than places that don’t have that strict of a gun law,” he said. “Legislatures are passing gun laws left and right to deal with what they feel are gun problems. But it’s really not gun problems, it’s people problems.”

“It’s trickling down and affecting law-abiding citizens. People that obey the law and support the 2nd Amendment and that do just use guns for hunting, sports and self needs. It’s time somebody stood up for us, even though they stood up for us when they wrote the 2nd Amendment.”

When citizen’s comments closed, Judge Adams gave a brief history lesson.

“You take an oath that you will support the Constitution of the United States when you take office. I’ve been here for, I don’t know how long .… I had never even printed off the Constitution. It’s 62 pages …. there are 27 amendments that are ratified,” he said, noting that it takes a 2/3 majority of all states to ratify amendments. “One of the most important in my opinion is the 2nd Amendment, but the 1st Amendment gives you the right, and me the right to assemble today, just like you’re doing, a peaceful assembly. And to address your government, which you’ve done. And I appreciate the compassion you’ve shown for the discussion and I appreciate the respect that you’ve given us.” 

Adams said that in all his years on the court that there had never been any discussions on guns, neither yea nor nay.

“Last year, our legislature passed a law that you could carry a gun concealed wherever you want to without training. Now, that’s a discussion that’s both sides. Both legit. Yesterday’s Lexington Herald printed an article and now, unbeknownst to me, what the legislature did last year – I’m talking about Frankfort, not Washington – you can walk in there with an assault rifle. You can walk in there with a concealed .357. You can walk in there with a bump stock, which is illegal, but you can walk in there fully armed to both the Senate, the House, the Capitol and the Capitol Annex. Not many years ago, they took my Case pocket knife. So I think that the trend has been to support the 2nd Amendment and I don’t think you’ll see Frankfort, unless things really change, and you have the ability to keep that from happening with your vote. And I hope each and every one of you vote when the polls open.”

“I appreciate you asking us to support the 2nd Amendment, and that’s what we’re going to do. But we support our entire Constitution and every amendment that has been ratified by the states. That’s what we should do and that’s what you should do. If you don’t agree with someone that is trying to change one that you don’t appreciate, beat him or beat her at the polls.”

County Attorney Daryl Day commended the citizens leading the charge for Lincoln County to be a 2nd Amendment Sanctuary County for a “very well done” resolution, saying “I think it expresses exactly how this court feels.” He went on to explain why the court would not be passing any ordinance.

Day explained by citing Kentucky Revised Statute 65.870 Local Firearms Control Ordinance Prohibited, which reads:

“Local firearms control ordinances prohibited – Exemption from immunity –- Declaratory and injunctive relief. (1) No existing or future city, county, urban-county government, charter county, consolidated local government, unified local government, special district, local or regional public or quasi-public agency, board, commission, department, public corporation, or any person acting under the authority of any of these organizations may occupy any part of the field of regulation of the manufacture, sale, purchase, taxation, transfer, ownership, possession, carrying, storage, or transportation of firearms, ammunition, components of firearms, components of ammunition, firearms accessories, or combination thereof. (2) Any existing or future ordinance, executive order, administrative regulation, policy, procedure, rule, or any other form of executive or legislative action in violation of this section or the spirit thereof is hereby declared null, void, and unenforceable.”

“This court cannot pass anything that restricts your use, possession, ownership, transfer of any gun, any part of a gun, any ammunition, any part of ammunition.” said Day. “They cannot. The state legislature has said that, if they try to do that, not just in this county but all 120 counties of the state of Kentucky, it is null and void.”

That, however, is why the resolution is a good solution, according to Day.

“This resolution doesn’t attempt to do any of that,” said Day. “It is an expression that this court supports the 2nd Amendment. Most of you know these guys, or at least one of the guys on this court. I doubt you’ve heard any of them say anything opposed to the 2nd Amendment. I haven’t. I’ve known Lonnie since I started walking and talking. I’ve known Jeff for 20 years. I went to school with David’s children. And I’ve known Joe for about 20 years. They’ve never. (Rep.) David Meade, we’re lucky to have him. He’s not opposed to the 2nd Amendment. Sen. Rick Girdler is not opposed to the 2nd Amendment. We live in a lucky spot because what you believe in is what the people you’ve elected believe in.”

Day did have a word of caution for those in attendance.

“You know what I do for a living. I have a concealed carry permit. My family recently went to Florida and I had a gun with me everywhere I went …. I don’t carry a gun when I go to Walmart here. We live in a safe county. If I lived in Chicago, I would probably take a gun to Walmart. As a gun owner, who believes in the right to hunt and protect yourself, be considerate. You have rights to your weapons. You have rights to shoot your weapons. But do not use it in such a way that it infringes on someone else’s rights.”

“Property lines do a lot of things. They do not stop bullets. They do not stop noise,” continued Day, who related a story of a man who shot off 1,000 rounds every morning from 7:30 to 10 a.m. because he was mad at his neighbor. “The man came home from work at 7 a.m. and would go to bed and the neighbor was mad and didn’t want him to sleep. Those people give us a bad name as gun owners because they are not considerate of other peoples rights.”

The issue of the law allowing everyone to carry does cause great concern, said Day.

“The gentleman who said he had questions about everybody being allowed to carry, I question that, too. If you want to see some people that shouldn’t be allowed to carry, come to my office and hang out for a week,” said Day. “When they passed a law saying everyone can carry, the lady back here, the meth head who went into her son’s apartment, he now has the right to carry concealed without training. Think about that. The person you’re afraid of, they have the same right to carry concealed without training.”

“This gentleman was in the military. He never fired a weapon they didn’t train him on. We’ve got a lot of people going out and buying firearms that they don’t know a lot about. I don’t want to walk down the street with those people having it under their coat. I don’t want them dropping it on the floor when I’m somewhere and it going off and killing someone. That’s when people start to question responsible firearm owners. If you’re responsible enough to be here and express your opinion, I have no doubt you’re a responsible firearms owner. The people that we’re worried about don’t come to these meetings. They don’t go to the polls.”

Not one dissenting comment was heard during the meeting until Day got on the discussion of the Supreme Court and the 2nd Amendment.

Day began the discussion by asking, “Does anybody here know what the 2nd Amendment actually means?”

“I’ve been practicing law for 27 years and here’s what I’ve come to the conclusion. 2nd Amendment means that right there,” Day said holding up five fingers. “It means what five people on the Supreme Court says it means. It means no more. It means no less. As long as a majority of the Supreme Court says we have the right to keep and bear arms, we have the right to keep and bear arms. When five members of the Supreme Court say it does not mean that, then you no longer have that right. Elections are important. Elections have consequences.”

As Day finished his sentence, the statement “You’re wrong”, rose from the crowd, to which Day asked, “How am I wrong?”

“The 2nd Amendment allows us to form a militia and put anybody out of office or out of power …” a man said. “Without the 2nd Amendment you wouldn’t have no 1st Amendment.”

“Who gets to determine what it means? The Supreme Court,” Day said. “I’m not disagreeing with you. I’m saying that, when you’re voting for candidates, vote for candidates that believe in what you believe in.”

“My oath to this country will never expire .… to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. That could mean you all,” the man replied.

“And who’s the commander of that force?” asked Day.

A different voice chimed in saying, “the President.”

“What I’m saying is elections have consequences,” Day said. “When the Supreme Court changes, they start changing how they interpret laws.”

Pruitt expressed his appreciation for the citizens in attendance and the 2nd Amendment, but also voiced his concerns with anyone being able to carry a gun.

“I’m just thankful that we have people that are concerned. As far as for this ordinance, I’ve not heard anybody in Lincoln County that is against the 2nd Amendment. I’m thankful that we have these laws in place …,” he said. “Do I have concerns over people that have weapons, like Barney Fife would say, ‘He’s a nut.’ Yes, it worries me. Everybody in this room, when they were a kid growing up, they didn’t have to worry about being shot in schools. That concerns me. It’s kind of like Daryl says, sometimes we’ve got to respect other people’s rights.”

Faulkner took the floor after Pruitt, bringing the motion before the court.

“I’ve listened to all of you and, actually, I’ve talked to several of you in the weeks leading up to this,” said Faulkner. “I gratefully appreciate everything said by the court in support. Daryl’s absolutely right about what we can and can’t do as far as state law limits our ability as to passing an ordinance, which in fact is a law. So we cannot pass an ordinance but to me this is a very simple thing.”

“What we can do and what we’re here to talk about is, do we support the 2nd Amendment? We can’t pass an ordinance because that’s a law saying we’re going to do something. But we can certainly pass the resolution as presented and read by Daryl …. I’m ready to make the motion that we pass the resolution right now.”