Second Amendment Sanctuaries: Are they legal?

Zachary Hurwitz, Staff Writer

With President Biden’s plan to stop gun violence through restrictions, gun owners and second amendment activists are concerned that the legality of gun-ownership may soon be jeopardized. This has led to many states, such as Texas and Oklahoma, considering to make their land “second amendment sanctuaries.” 

So what is a second amendment sanctuary? As Governor Gregg Abbott of Texas said last month, his hope is that, “ . . . no government official at any level can come and take your gun away from you.”  What this means is that no matter what federal regulations come to pass in relation to gun-ownership, the state does not have to answer to said law if they deem it unconstitutional. Many states, such as Idaho and Wyoming, already have laws in place to protect the validity of the second amendment. There is currently legislation being passed in both Tennessee and Virginia, not to mention the hundreds of counties and towns across the country, that have declared themselves second amendment sanctuaries. The installation of “second amendment sanctuaries” is quickly growing, but is it legal?

Can the states actually do this? Would there be legal repercussions if they refused to honor the federal legislation? This is where it gets a little cloudy. Mary B. McCord, a former acting assistant attorney general for national security, stated in the Washington Post that, “state constitutions, statutes, and common law generally affirm the ‘supremacy’ of federal and state law, meaning that local jurisdictions are preempted from enacting conflicting ordinances and resolutions”; only a court can overturn a state or federal law. Hence, second amendment sanctuaries would have no legal basis. 

Yet numerous counties argue that their legislation merely honors the second amendment, such as The Board of Commissioners in Citrus County, Florida, saying that the bill had “no legal authority.” Other laws put in place, such as the resolution in Mohave County, Arizona, stated that they would not authorize government funds or resources that “infringes on the people’s right to bear arms”.

Are these resolutions necessary, or have any legal basis at all? Would the states and counties stand their ground if a major gun reform bill is passed? No one can know for sure what will happen if they do, or how much turmoil that would cause in the United States.