Parker County officials and residents shared their thoughts about a resolution designating the county as a second amendment sanctuary county at Monday’s commissioners court meeting, which was approved by the court.
“I put this item on the agenda about this resolution because I feel that some of these socialist gun-takers that are getting elected or trying to be elected are trying to take some of our guns now and more later,” Precinct 1 Commissioner George Conley said. “They have already warned us that this is what they’ve planned on doing, so we have been warned. It seems to me that it’s OK to have sanctuary cities, but it’s not OK to have a sanctuary county, so that’s why I put this on here to see if we want to step out there and do that.”
The resolution states that the commissioners court affirms its support for the duly-elected sheriff of Parker County, in the exercise of his sound discretion, and affirms its resolve to support decisions made by the sheriff to not enforce any unconstitutional firearms restrictions against any citizen. The commissioners court will not authorize or appropriate government funds, resources, employees, agencies, contractors, buildings, detention centers or offices for the purpose of enforcing a law that unconstitutionally infringes on the right of the people to keep and bear arms.
“Honestly, I find it sad that we have to come up here and vote to protect our second amendment. This is the essence of America and it’s absolutely the essence of Texas — the right to protect and bear arms,” Parker County Republican Party Chair Scott Utley said. “This is how we protect ourselves, this is how we protect our families and this is how we protect our communities, and for anyone to think that they can infringe upon that is greatly mistaken. It’s not true Texas values, it’s not American values and I support that we need to affirm the second amendment in Parker County.”
Parker County Democratic Party Chair Kay Parr said in passing the resolution, the commissioners will be declaring that the county does not believe in the law, is unwilling to enforce it and does not believe or support representative democracy or the Constitution.
“When each of you took the oath of office, you swore on the Bible to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the laws of the state of Texas. If you vote for this resolution, you will have broken that oath,” Parr said. “The premise of this resolution, should the state of Texas or United States’ duly-elected government representatives enact any laws that govern gun ownership or access to guns, the government of Parker County will defy that law.”
Parr said this will open the county up for lawsuits and since there are regulations in place for receiving or keeping an active driver’s license in the country, there should also continue to be the same safety precautions put in place regarding weapons.
“Nobody has suggested taking away all the guns and anybody who believes that isn’t paying attention. Rhetoric that wrongfully makes uninformed gun owners fearful of losing all their guns is detrimental to us finding a solution to the horrific gun violence issues that we now face in our nation,” Parr said. “No one with a history of criminal activity or mental illness should have unlimited access to guns at any time.”
But Utley said all the resolution will be doing is affirming the second amendment as stated today.
“We’re not doing anything other than affirming the second amendment, we are supporting the law as it’s consistent today,” Utley said. “If we cannot do that in this county, I’m not sure where else we could ever do that.”
There were 10 other officials and residents that spoke about the resolution — five for and five against.
“I actually happened to be an elected official at one point myself and the first thing I did when I was sworn in as a local elected official was affirm that I would protect the Constitution, and that’s precisely what you folks are trying to do here today,” Chris Putnam said. “I applaud what you’re doing here and I hope more counties do it. I personally believe that I shouldn’t require a license to practice my second amendment.”
Resident Harvey Arnold said he was appalled that they were voting on the resolution.
“I moved here two years ago to retire and I'm a little bit appalled that we are even having to vote on this today. The second amendment of the Constitution is not under attack and being a sanctuary county I think is absurd to even consider,” Arnold said. “I think that we need to live in a country where we respect law and order and we don’t want to take a position that we are a sanctuary county and we don’t want to follow law and order.”
Resident Johnny Dwire said it was important for the county to pass and lock down this resolution.
“I am a believer in the second amendment and we’re talking about affirming what we have now, which is the right to carry and bear arms to protect ourselves. The fact is, progressives are multiplying and moving here — we’ve got a great place to be, so they’re coming — and they’re bringing their thinking with them and it doesn’t necessarily agree with those of us in Parker County that believe the way we do,” Dwire said. “So this is a reaffirmation of the second amendment, not asking to change anything. The fact is, we need to be able to lock down this Constitution from being changed.”
Resident Judy Conklin said it’s not the job of the sheriff to determine whether something is constitutional or not.
“I think all we’re really asking for is that we don’t do away with laws that keep those people who should not have guns from having guns,” Conklin said. “Also, it is not the job of a sheriff to determine if a law is constitutional or not. It’s the job of the courts to decide if something is constitutional. I know you men have a lot of power, I understand you are the governing body of our county and I respect you for that, but I think the law should be respected also. I don’t have a problem with guns, but I do have a problem with people who should not be gun owners and I think we should be protecting our children as much as we’re protecting our guns.”
Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler said he will always be opposed to any changes in the Constitution.
“While this is largely symbolic, and I understand that, I will be opposed to any change in the Constitution of this country,” Fowler said. “If we would just enforce the laws currently on the books, we would be a whole lot better off because there’s plenty of laws out there right now without tampering with the Constitution of the United States.”
The commissioners unanimously approved the resolution.
“We don’t have the authority in commissioners court to oppose the law,” Precinct 4 Commissioner Steve Dugan said. “It certainly doesn’t create a law. I think our Constitution is well worth supporting and this is a good tool to send that message.”