County Second Amendment group forms
As some state legislatures continue talks on gun control measures, the newly-formed Washington County (Ohio Stands United) group wants to make sure their interpretation of the Second Amendment is enforced, meaning no further government regulation on owning guns.
The amendment reads “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
John Scott, 63, of Little Hocking, is one of more than 1,000 local residents who have joined the group in the last month.
Scott said he received an email from Ohio Stands United and thought their philosophy was interesting. He contacted them and learned the group wanted each county to have a resolution from their county commission that would declare they were a Second Amendment Sanctuary.
“It’s our right as citizens that we don’t want the government to come in and regulate what we can and can not do,” Scott said. “They are trying to take our rights away for the Second Amendment. The constitution says they can’t do it but they are still trying.”
The Washington County group has been gaining steam, garnering more than 1,060 members in their Facebook group in a month.
“Everything is done by word of mouth and the Facebook page,” Scott said. “It’s a conglomerate of people that want to get something done.”
Billy Bland, 42, of Warren Township, is vice president of the group. He said he believes the issue is about more than just the Second Amendment.
“What we are going after at this point, is to make a statement that we are paying attention to what our leaders are doing,” he explained. “We are going to hold them accountable for not acting in our best interest.”
He said they want to get the word out that citizens want their rights, not just the Second Amendment, defended.
“We want to educate the grassroots people to get them more involved in their leadership so they know what the desires of the constituents are. We want people to get engaged with their representatives,” he added. “Do what the people want instead of doing what they think is in the best interest of the people.”
Scott said so far, 14 counties in Ohio have adopted the resolution, and most counties are working on it.
“Morgan County has theirs in place, but we’re still working on it,” he said. “There are also three counties that are showing they are opposed to the sanctuary.”
The movement and particularly the resolution brought before commissioners have been controversial throughout the state. In Chillicothe last month, a commissioners meeting was filled with a group of educators, historians, lawyers, city and county employees and political activists opposed to the Ohio Stands United measure.
Their concerns were a potential increase in access to firearms, increased suicide rates and violent crimes and a possible decrease in tourism. Many said they are in favor of the Second Amendment but are also in favor of sensible gun control measures and feel that spreading the message that the government is trying to take everyone’s guns away is dangerous and untrue.
In Ohio, the resolutions are largely seen as opposition to Gov. Mike DeWine’s proposed Strong Ohio Bill (SB 221) which involves legislative language on the sale of firearms and the ability to petition to legal and law enforcement officials against another person’s ability to possess firearms for a variety of reasons. The full bill can be viewed at legislature.ohio.gov/legislation
According to Ohio Stands United, there are 58,300 members statewide as of Monday.
The resolution, which is the same for every county, reads in part that the Board of County Commissioners would stand and defend the rights and liberties of citizens, which are guaranteed by the United States and Ohio constitutions. It also states the board pledges not to appropriate funds, resources, employees or agencies to initiate unconstitutional seizures in unincorporated Washington County,
Commissioner David White said the commissioners have read the resolution, but he has a couple of concerns. Still, if it came before the board, he said he would vote for it.
“The biggest concern is that it’s meaningless. We are in full support of the Second Amendment,” he said. “I believe (the commissioners) are all concealed carry holders. I don’t disagree with the sentiment.”
He said passing one resolution that the commissioners don’t have authority over could lead them to pass other resolutions that are unenforceable. He said he has taken oaths to uphold the constitution.
“I’ve taken an oath four times that says that I’ll uphold the Constitution of Ohio and the Constitution of the United States,” he said. “There’s nothing I disagree with. We cannot go against the Ohio Constitution or the U.S. Constitution.”
He said he also has no issue with people carrying guns.
“I spent six years in the U.S. Army, so I have no qualms about people carrying guns. I would support Ohio being a constitutional concealed carry state,” White noted.
Commissioner Ron Feathers said no one from the Washington County (Ohio Stands United) has asked them about the resolution. He said the commission isn’t allowed to make legislation, so it doesn’t have teeth.
“No one from the organization has approached us,” Feathers said. “It would have to be done at a public meeting.”
He said he is a lifetime member of the NRA and a concealed weapon carrier, and wouldn’t oppose the resolution.
“It shows solidarity, but it’s more symbolism than substance,” he added.
Washington County (Ohio Stands United) leadership has scheduled a second meeting so that other county residents have the chance to voice their opinions.
“The first one was in Marietta in January,” Scott said. “We decided to hold meetings around the county to give people the chance to attend one if they can’t get into Marietta.”
The second meeting will be from 7 to 9 p.m. Feb. 29 at the Barlow Volunteer Fire Department. Scott said about 30 people attended the first meeting and he hopes more will attend the next one.
“We have a gentleman coming in from the Ohio Militiamen to speak,” he added. “He’s a member of our group as well.”
He noted there are people who don’t agree with the Second Amendment or the sanctuary resolution, but he would like to sit down and get their viewpoints.
“This is a constitution information group more than anything,” he added. “These are the bills that are being voted on and we want people to make up their own minds. We’re not pushing a certain agenda. We want to give people information.”
At the meetings, they will discuss upcoming bills, and if it’s an infringement on rights.
“We’re not telling people what to vote on, we want them to make their own decision,” Bland said. “After they vote, we’ll tell members what the representatives voted. If (representatives) aren’t going to listen to the majority of their constituents, then we’ll encourage the constituents to make their voice heard during election time.”
As of Friday, the local counties that have passed the resolution are Meigs and Morgan. Along with Washington County, there is also an organized group in Monroe County.
Ohio isn’t the only state passing these resolutions. Wirt County in West Virginia recently unanimously passed the resolution. Wood County passed a similar resolution naming it a “Constitutional Sanctuary County.”
The movement was inspired by cities and counties in Virginia declaring themselves Second Amendment Sanctuaries in opposition to proposed gun laws there. The Virginia Attorney general said the sanctuaries have ” no legal effect.”
Michele Newbanks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At a glance:
• Washington County (Ohio Stands United) is a grassroots movement aimed at preserving the Bill of Rights and the Second Amendment.
• Their next meeting will be from 7 to 9 p.m. Feb. 29 at the Barlow Volunteer Fire Department.
• Almost 1,100 local residents have joined the group since mid-January.
• Fifteen Ohio counties have adopted the resolution.
• Ohio Stands United has 58,300 members as of Monday morning.
Source: Times research.