DeSoto County supervisors have gone on record in support of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution regarding the legal possession and ownership of firearms. Supervisors at the morning portion of its Tuesday, Jan. 21 meeting, declared the county to be a Second Amendment “Safe Haven” county to protect citizens’ rights to keep and bear arms.
Supervisors unanimously approved a resolution that initially declared the county to be a “sanctuary county.” However the wording was changed to “safe haven county” due to an perceived belief that by calling the county a sanctuary, it would be construed to mean the county would be harboring illegal aliens.
The issue is a response after a Democratic-led Virginia state Senate recently moved forward gun control legislation that would restrict monthly gun purchases, expand background checks on firearms, and allow specific localities to ban guns in certain designated areas.
Another bill, to ban the sale or possession of assault rifles in the state, is expected to come up in the House of Delegates, Virginia’s version of the House of Representatives.
A citizen effort to demonstrate and block the passage of the measures brought thousands of gun-rights people to the state capital of Richmond to protest on Monday, Jan. 20.
Eudora resident Steve Gay was the first to step forward at Tuesday’s board meeting to support the resolution.
“Currently our rights to self defense in both the U.S. and state constitutions are under attack,” he said. “Presidential candidates are threatening and the governor and legislature in Virginia are preparing to confiscate legally obtained firearms from law abiding citizens. I urge this board to demonstrate to the citizens of DeSoto County by resolution that they will not stand idly by if the state or federal government tries to confiscate our firearms.”
Gay’s comments gained support from state Rep. Dana Criswell (R-Olive Branch), who said he is pushing a similar measure at the state level in the House.
“I know the board members support the Second Amendment as I do and I thank you for taking a stand,” Rep. Criswell said. “I know it’s somewhat symbolic since we don’t have an immediate threat from our state government but taking the stand is what the citizens wanted from you. We want to head off anything coming to Mississippi like in Virginia.”
Criswell said state Sen. Michael McLendon (R-Hernando) has a similar resolution going in the Senate.
Another resident spoke up to tell the board that he felt what is happening in Virginia is very disturbing.
The wording change in the resolution’s title from “sanctuary” and “safe haven” came after Supervisor Mark Gardner spoke up about it.
“It’s not a concession or conceding, it’s clarification,” said Gardner. “When I talk to law enforcement officials and talk to attorneys about making DeSoto County a sanctuary county, their minds immediately go: ‘to harboring illegal aliens.’ DeSoto County is a refuge for those who support the Second Amendment. DeSoto County is a haven and a safe harbor.”
Gardner added the board would not be infringing on citizens’ Second Amendment rights.
Criswell said he preferred using the word “sanctuary” but “safe haven” would have the same effect.
“I like the word sanctuary because we’re joining the other states,” Criswell pointed out. “Thirteen states have it and almost every Virginia county outside of maybe Richmond has it. I’m not going to argue over the title. What’s important is the resolution and the promises that you’re making.”
The board’s resolution states, “the DeSoto County Board of Supervisors is concerned about the passage of any bill containing language which could be interpreted as infringing the rights of the citizens of DeSoto County to keep and bear arms.” It adds, “the DeSoto County Board of Supervisors wishes to express its deep commitment to the rights of all citizens of DeSoto County to keep and bear arms,” going on to express opposition to any law that would unconstitutionally restrict the rights of the citizens of DeSoto County to keep and bear arms.
Bob Bakken is Managing Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune.