BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) — As of Thursday night, Sullivan County is the newest ‘Second Amendment Sanctuary County’ in Tennessee. A declaration of support for the Second Amendment was approved at the county commission meeting.
The declaration is more of a symbolic measure rather than an enforceable law. Commissioners said approving the resolution was about making the county’s voice heard to leaders at the State Capitol. The resolution was sponsored by commissioners Hunter Locke and Gary Stidham.
“This is sending a message to Nashville. We do not want you supporting the red flag laws,” Stidham said.
These ‘red flag laws,’ also known as ‘extreme risk protection orders,’ would allow courts across the state to prohibit certain people from possessing firearms. These would be individuals who law enforcement believe pose an immediate and present danger by having guns. Law enforcement officers could petition a court to allow removal of that person’s weapons.
In February, the Tennessee General Assembly approved the further study of SB0943/HB1049. These measures involve authorizing the issuance of extreme risk protection orders by courts around the state. Several states have already implemented red flag laws, including Florida, California, and Connecticut.
“This is just to send a message to Washington and the state that we don’t agree with that, that we’re a gun sanctuary county, and we’re going to protect our Second Amendment rights,” said Locke during last Thursday’s commission work session. “Other counties across the state [have] done this as well.”
These other Tennessee counties include Polk, Sevier, Carter, Jefferson, Blount, Loudon, Monroe, and Roane.
Sullivan County Sheriff Jeff Cassidy also believed approving sanctuary status was the right move for the county.
“I’m in full support of the Second Amendment Sanctuary,” Cassidy said.
If red flag laws were authorized on a state level, Cassidy said he isn’t too worried yet about how it would effect his department.
“We’ll probably fight that battle when it comes to us, but I don’t see it going through as far as people are speaking of. I just want to protect the rights of our individuals and our citizens in Sullivan County.”
Stidham and Locke both encouraged surrounding counties to pass similar measures.
“It’s not necessarily, ‘Hey, we care about the guns more than we do about what’s going on in this country,” Stidham said. “But the minute you start impeding on someone’s constitutional rights, you start chipping those away, where does it stop?”