Hawkins County’s resolution, which will be considered in a regular session on Monday, states it will protect Second Amendment rights “except for legally upheld statutes, laws, or final court orders.”
Red flag laws give the state the authority to seize a person's firearms and ammunition if a judge signs an “extreme risk protection order” stating a person poses an “immediate and present danger” of causing personal injury to another person or to him or herself.
Tennessee’s red flag bills dead on arrival
Last year, proposed “red flag law” bills were filed in the Tennessee Senate and House (SB0943/HB1049), and although both were sent to committee, neither gained any traction and they weren't considered by either body.
Still, Hawkins County Commissioner Mike Herrell, who sponsored Hawkins County's Second Amendment Sanctuary resolution, told the Times News on Monday this is an opportunity for the commission to affirm its support of the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
“Defending the Second Amendment rights is my main goal,” Herrell said. “I'm a firm believer in the Constitution and I think we ought to stand up for the Constitution. I know the way things are going in Virginia right now, the governor up there is doing all kinds of things just to take people's guns. I understand if you go out here and do something wrong, you should have your guns taken. But you've got a lot of citizens who've just got guns for a hobby, hunting or whatever, and I don't think anybody ought to be losing their gun. It's our Second Amendment right to bear arms.”
Herrell said one commissioner asked him to strengthen pro Second Amendment language in the resolution by adding the sentence, “Nobody can come and take my guns.”
Questions about the resolution
One commissioner who has questions about the resolution is John Metz, who suggested that it “doesn't do anything.”
The last paragraph of the resolution states, “Hawkins County will provide safe haven and protect the United States Constitution and Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Hawkins County citizens except for legally upheld statutes, laws, or final court orders.”
Metz told the Times News that last sentence cancels out the intent of the resolution, but in Tennessee it's a moot point.
“This means nothing because there's no threat of the law being passed, and it's not even under consideration,” Metz said. “It's a do-nothing resolution. If we were in Virginia it would be a different story. They've got some legitimate concerns there, but (the red flag laws) aren't even being considered here.”
Metz added, “Naturally I'm in support of the Second Amendment, and I'm also in support of the Ninth Amendment that says just because a right isn't listed in the Constitution doesn't mean we don't have that right. My kids have a right to study in school without the threat of somebody coming in and shooting them who has been deemed an imminent threat due to some mental incapacity. I can see both sides of it.”
Other commissioners speak out
Danny Alvis: “If it’s not broken leave it alone, and it's not broken in the state of Tennessee. This is sending a clear message that we will not allow this to happen. We're going to protect our Second Amendment.”
Mark DeWitte: “The research I’ve done is telling me that Senate Bill 0943 and House Bill 1049, which are referenced in the resolution, have not yet even been considered by the Tennessee legislature. If this resolution is a preemptive measure to put regulations in place in the county to not enforce that legislation, then the resolution should be directed at not getting the law passed. It shouldn’t be directed at not enforcing something that doesn’t even exist yet, and in fact may never exist. I’m as much pro-gun as anyone I know of, but it seems to me that, pun intended, we’re shooting at something that isn’t even there.”
Hannah Speaks: “I’m in support of it. Now more than ever we need to take efforts to defend our constitutional rights. In such an uncertain and preposterous political climate at the federal level, we need to take what action we can locally to protect ourselves.”
Valarie Goins: “I am in favor of Hawkins County being a sanctuary county for us as citizens. I feel that the red flag law will do nothing but put the right to bear arms in the hands of the criminal only. We have lived in this country for over 200 plus years bearing arms. Why should this change? Arms are not the basis of all the mass shootings and random shootings over all this country. It is the product of devilish people that are demon possessed. If we want to protect our citizens, we will continue to have the right to have and bear arms. Our country has no morals as a whole and it seems the more that we take God out of things, the worse it gets. I pray each day for God to watch over me and my family in this world.”