Gunfight at the Piedmont Corral

shape of a handgun inside the shape of North Carolina

shape of a handgun inside the shape of North Carolina
To watch a lot of old cowboy movies, you’d think there were daily gunfights in the streets of every 19th century western town. But the truth is by 1880, most local governments in the Old West made it illegal to carry a gun inside town limits. The thinking was that if no one was allowed to carry a gun, then no one would be killed by a gun. That philosophy saved lives and, as a bonus, attracted more people and businesses to the community. Somewhere along the way, however, America lost its collective mind and its moral compass. We’ve become gun-crazy, and today there are more guns than people in our country. Even the Wild West, which once became tame, is now wild again, with UCLA law professor Adam Winkler noting, “Today you’re allowed to carry a gun in the streets of Tombstone without a license or a permit. Back in the 1880s you weren’t.”

Conservative politicians now advocate for open carry laws so that we can all pack heat inside churches and grocery stores. In some states, it’s not unusual to see diner patrons wearing a cell phone on one side of their belt, and a holster on the other. President Trump has suggested that teachers arm themselves as a remedy to school massacres. And the latest harebrained craze sweeping the nation is for local governments to adopt so-called “Second Amendment Sanctuary” resolutions. Sadly, a growing number of counties here in the Piedmont are jumping on that bandwagon.

Last week, the Davidson Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to become a “Second Amendment Protection County”, something their counterparts in Cherokee, Lincoln, Rowan, Stokes, Surry, and Wilkes had already done. Now, the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners is considering a similar resolution. Why the sudden rush to re-affirm our right to bear arms? Probably because of misinformation surrounding the Virginia legislature’s recent consideration of eight different bills designed to tighten gun laws, among them: a mandatory background check on all gun sales; a ban on assault rifles; a law that would allow police to remove guns from the home of someone who is deemed to be a threat to themselves or others; and a limit on handgun purchases to one per month.

But none of those proposed bills threaten the Second Amendment, in fact, just the opposite. How can, for example, a state law that allows one person to buy twelve guns per year, be considered a threat to our right to bear arms? The problem is that those who are leading the charge on Second Amendment sanctuary measures don’t seem to care about facts or logic. Some don’t seem to realize that no local ordinance can supersede a state or federal law, while others have adopted a prematurely defiant stance of non-compliance.

What’s frightening, though, is the rhetoric emanating from some local officials. While the resolutions themselves have no teeth, an increasing number of sheriffs and commissioners have signaled that they would simply refuse to recognize or enforce any new gun control laws. The question is, why would any local law enforcement officer feel empowered enough to ignore the law of the land? Perhaps Davidson Sheriff Richie Simmons has the answer. According to a January 12 report in the Winston-Salem Journal, Simmons said he had been “appointed by God” in order to protect citizens’ rights. Meanwhile his deputy, Tripp Kester is apparently on board with that sentiment, saying the Second Amendment is “God given”. And then there’s Daniel Watson, a Davidson County teacher, who, during a recent meeting, warned commissioners that, “those in power will come for your Bibles next.”

News flash, there’s nothing in the state or federal constitutions that says God can appoint sheriffs. Moreover, God did not write the Second Amendment, and last time I checked, the right of eminent domain doesn’t extend to confiscating Bibles. So let’s stop invoking God’s name in order to justify passage of moot resolutions designed to grab headlines, when our time would be better spent lobbying for tougher gun laws designed to save lives.


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