BRUNSWICK COUNTY — With a unanimous vote, Brunswick County Commissioners passed a “Constitutional Protected Rights County” resolution at their regular meeting Monday, joining a growing number of counties across the country adopting similar nonbinding designations.
In effect, the resolution is not actionable — the right to own and carry a firearm is already protected by the Second Amendment. It is, however, a symbolic and political gesture.
Brunswick County Commissioners considered the topic after a petition surfaced online mid-January. Notably, the county’s language in its resolution does not reference the popularized term, “gun sanctuary,” instead opting for the more formal, “Constitutional Protected Rights County.”
Nationwide, the concept of “sanctuary counties” arose after Effingham County, Illinois State’s Attorney Bryan Kibler aimed to strengthen a gun rights resolution to respond to proposed gun-control legislation, according to the Chicago Tribune. Kibler lifted the term from “sanctuary cities”, where local law enforcement agencies do not cooperate with federal agencies in enforcing immigration law.
In recent years, gun-control legislation has not made a serious run in the Republican-controlled North Carolina General Assembly. The last gun-related legislation to pass was in 2015, which authorized local jurisdictions to prohibit concealed carry firearms on municipal or county recreational facilities.
Three gun-control bills introduced last year, House Bill 86, House Bill 815, and House Bill 842, have barely moved since being filed, still stuck in committee, according to the Charlotte Observer. These bills would have required permits for assault weapons or long-range guns; a 72-hour waiting period between purchase of a firearm and possessing it; require firearm owners to possess firearm liability insurance; prohibit unsecured firearms in unattended motor vehicles; require reporting of lost or stolen firearms.
Still, Brunswick County Commissioners aimed to address any gun-control legislation, with its resolution stating the board is “concerned about the passage of any bill or legislation which could be interpreted as infringing the rights of the citizens of Brunswick County to keep and bear arms.”
The Brunswick County Chapter of the NAACP adamantly opposed the resolution. In a letter to Commissioners, Chapter President Carl Parker questioned how many of the petition’s 2,100 signers were actually county residents and emphasized the importance of “sane, sensible” laws to address gun violence.