• 72°

Beaufort Co. a gun rights sanctuary

Beaufort County has joined a list of self-proclaimed North Carolina “sanctuary” counties, a response to a neighboring state’s Second Amendment rights battle.

A resolution in support of the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms, comes in the wake of new gun-control laws proposed in Virginia, which have led to some Virginia counties declaring themselves “sanctuary counties.” In North Carolina, Beaufort County joins Lincoln, Surry, Wilkes, McDowell and Davidson counties, all of which passed similar resolutions this year. Cherokee and Rutherford counties passed gun-rights resolutions in 2019.

At Monday’s regular meeting of the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners, the resolution passed 5-2 along party lines, with Commissioners Ed Booth and Jerry Langley voting against.

Before it passed, there was ample debate about the wording of the resolution’s last paragraph.

“Be it further resolved, that if the government of the State of North Carolina shall infringe upon the inalienable rights granted by the Second Amendment, Beaufort County shall become a ‘Sanctuary County’ for all firearms unconstitutionally prohibited by the government of the State of North Carolina in that, Beaufort County will prohibit its employees from enforcing the unconstitutional actions of the state government,” the resolution reads.

However, to prohibit sheriff’s office deputies from enforcing state law would be against the law.

“It’s not appropriate for a board to tell its employees to break the law,” said Beaufort County Manager Brian Alligood. “It is really a symbolic resolution, because federal law trumps state law, state law trumps county law.”

Instead, Alligood suggested the language be replaced by wording indicating the county would vigorously fight in the court system any state law the board feels infringes on Second Amendment rights.

“What I suggested to the board at the meeting was that they take out the language about instructing county employees about not enforcing the laws,” Alligood said.

Rep. Keith Kidwell, who represents Beaufort County in the North Carolina House, also weighed in on the Virginia Second Amendment rights battle, drafting a letter in support of Virginia Second Amendment sanctuary cities and counties which has been signed by 50 members of the N.C. House. Kidwell, Rep. Michael Speciale (Craven) and Rep. Bobby Hanig (Currituck) plan to deliver the letter of solidarity to their Virginia counterparts at a gun-rights rally on Jan. 20.

“As stated in the letter, North Carolina and Virginia have stood together beginning with the revolution, and it is the hope of the signers of this letter of support that we will continue to stand with the citizens as their rights are being attacked in much the same way they were under colonial rule,” reads a press release from Kidwell.