Some Greene County leaders want to pass a resolution to make the area a ‘Second Amendment Sanctuary.’
If passed, Greene County would become the third locality in East Tennessee to adopt the label, following Polk and Blount Counties.
Mayor Kevin Morrison is among those supporting the effort. “I think it’s a way of necessarily reinforcing, if you will, that the population here supports gun ownership, gun rights and the second amendment,” he said Wednesday.
The movement comes after state lawmakers tabled a bill that would’ve allowed police to confiscate guns from individuals that law enforcement or family members flagged as dangerous. Second amendment supporters said the bill abandoned due process.
“We will not stand for trampling our rights further than they’ve already been,” said Commissioner Clifford Bryant.
Bryant first brought the resolution forward Monday after hearing from concerned citizens in his district. Jason Cobble and Josh Arrowood have since signed on as co-sponsors.
He said his proposal is different from the push from some liberal leaders, declaring their localities “Sanctuary Cities” to protect immigrants.
“Those cities are a safe haven for illegals, criminals to come and hide out,” said Bryant. “We are trying to create a safe haven to protect law-abiding citizens from the tyranny of overreaching government.”
When asked if using the label “sanctuary” to communicate this message would merely contribute to polarization and prevent compromise, Bryant said, “Those of us that truly believe in the Constitution believe that we should have no compromise.”
Some commissioners, who say they support Second Amendment rights, are worried that the term sends the wrong signal.
“Sanctuary is just a misleading word,” said Commissioner Robin Quillen. “We can’t override the state and the federal government.”
County Attorney Roger Woolsey said the resolution, in its current form, doesn’t give the commission any legal authority. “Enforcement of the law is the sheriff’s responsibility so the county commission can’t really tell the sheriff what laws to enforce and what laws not to enforce,” he said.
Other commissioners took issue with the way the resolution was introduced.
In a phone interview Wednesday, Commissioner Brad Peters said, “It felt like an ambush. He [Bryant] had all these people lined up to speak and no one from the other side of the aisle was there to counter their comments.”
Commissioner John Waddle also took issue with the introduction of the resolution. “Mainly because of the way the acted the other night, I don’t plan to vote for it,” said Waddle. “The Second Amendment has served us well for 200 years. I just don’t think this is necessary.”
Bryant said he introduced it Monday to give commissioners more time to consider the proposal before they’re expected to vote on Monday, June 17th.