by Lisa Bicknell,
Citizen Voice and Times Editor
The Estill County Fiscal Court met in a special called meeting last Monday afternoon, December 30, to take care of some end of year business, but most of the meeting was focused on the concerns of many about their second amendment rights.
Those concerns arose after a grassroots effort recently arose by some local citizens to collect signatures on a petition circulated by a group called Estill County United, which is a subgroup of Kentucky United. The group aims to inform people about gun laws that are currently under consideration.
The petition addressed concerns about bill requests currently before Kentucky legislature, stating in part that the bills would “deny citizens the right to due process, subject them to unreasonable search/seizure and deny them ownership of certain types of weapons, certain parts of weapons and accessories.”
The petition also called for the Estill County Fiscal Court to declare Estill County a “2nd Amendment Sanctuary,” and “let Frankfort know that our county law enforcement will not enforce unconstitutional laws, and our citizens will not comply.”
Judge-executive Donnie Watson began the meeting by addressing the 150 or so people gathered in the upstairs court room, saying, “I’m for you having your gun…no one should be able to take your gun.”
However, Watson said that he is not in favor of calling Estill County a sanctuary county, because he doesn’t want the term “sanctuary” to identify the county with “radical cities.”
County Attorney Jason Riley had prepared a resolution to be considered by the fiscal court, but some of those attending the meeting were not satisfied with what they considered the weak wording of the resolution.
Sisters Dottie Gregory and Sandy Richardson were very clear about their disagreements with it.
Dottie Gregory said, “there is not enough in this resolution,” adding that “it doesn’t say what would happen,” as some of the resolutions passed in Breathitt County and other counties have stated.
Gregory asked the court to table the resolution and to come to an agreement on stronger wording before passing it.
Former Irvine mayor and current Irvine city council member Ernest Farmer also said he thought the wording of the resolution was too weak.
Jim Edwards, a veteran, stepped forward to address those assembled. He said that even if not legally binding, the resolution still says to the “county and liberals that we don’t agree [with certain gun restrictions].
County Attorney Riley said he had spoken with State Representative Cluster Howard that morning and that Howard had expressed his support of those concerned about second amendment rights, while he emphasized that “it really comes down to state law.”
Riley went on to explain that Kentucky state law prohibits local governments from enacting any ordinance at the county level that governs gun rights.
“The battle is not in the counties, but at the state level,” said Riley.
He also said that he doesn’t think that any of the proposed new bills will come to a vote in Frankfort.
He reminded that there was a 2nd Amendment rally scheduled for January 7, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Frankfort, and he encouraged those with concerns to attend the rally.
As complaints about a weak resolution continued, Tammy Terry, attending the meeting with her husband Clinton Terry who served four times in Afghanistan, spoke up to compare some of the comments to “chasing a squirrel.”
She went on to express her opinion that the resolution “gets our foot in the door,” and she encouraged the court to pass it.
“It at least says we stand together in support of the second amendment,” said Terry.
Sheriff Chris Flynn, a Marine veteran, was asked by someone in the audience what he would do if the law required him to take guns from people. Flynn replied that in some cases, he is already required to take people’s guns, at least temporarily. For example, he might be required to take a gun if a person has a protective restraining order against them.
But, he said, if he were required to take everyone’s guns, he’d “be resigning and joining the front.” His comments brought a solid round of applause from those assembled.
After many comments, the fiscal court voted unanimously in favor of the resolution.
Judge-executive Donnie Watson said the wording of the resolution could be changed later if necessary, as he reminded that the next meeting of the Estill County Fiscal Court is January 27 at 5 p.m.
Estill County joined more than a dozen other counties that have passed similar resolutions. Many other counties have votes or some type of meeting scheduled.
The resolution passed reads as follows:
Resolution in Support of the Second Amendment Right to Bear Arms
Whereas, it is the belief of the Estill County Fiscal Court that the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America guarantees the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms, and
Whereas, the United States Supreme Court has affirmed the rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, through the Fourteenth Amendment and,
Whereas, the Estill County Fiscal Court is concerned about the passage of any legislation containing language which could be interpreted as infringing the rights of the citizens of Estill County to keep and bear arms, and
Whereas, the Estill County Fiscal Court wishes to express opposition to any law that would unconstitutionally restrict the rights of the citizens of Estill County to keep and bear arms, and
Whereas, the Estill County Fiscal Court wishes to express its intent to stand for the rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America
Therefore, Be It Resolved, the Estill County Fiscal Court hereby expresses its intent to uphold the Second Amendment rights of the citizens of Estill County, Kentucky, and furthermore,
That the Estill County Fiscal Court hereby declares its opposition to any law that would unconstitutionally restrict the rights of the citizens of Estill County to keep and bear arms.