America's Second Amendment Sanctuary Movement Is Alive and Well

Rural communities continue to resist their legislatures’ attempts to enact gun control by declaring themselves “Second Amendment sanctuaries.”


Counties in Wisconsin, Florida, Virginia, Arizona, and Texas became part of a growing "Second Amendment sanctuary" movement this month.

The phrase "Second Amendment sanctuary" is an umbrella term used to describe a jurisdiction that passes a resolution declaring that restrictive gun control laws another legislative body passes are unconstitutional and will not be enforced there. The concept is an adaptation of the immigration "sanctuary city" movement, in which some cities and counties (and now whole states) generally decline to ask residents about their immigration status or assist the federal government in enforcing immigration laws. The resolutions can vary, but generally, Second Amendment sanctuaries refuse to dedicate resources to enforcing things like "red flag" laws and bans on certain weapons.

"This draws a line in the sand. It doesn't mince words. And I hope it sends a message to what can be described as the authoritarian control freaks," said Lake County, Fla., Commissioner Josh Blake (R) when Lake County leaders voted on Nov. 5 to become Florida's first Second Amendment sanctuary. "[They] see it as their jobs to forcibly disarm their fellow citizens, and with all due respect, that won't be happening in Lake County," Blake added, referencing former Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke's infamous, "Hell yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47," line.

Second Amendment sanctuaries are still a relatively new phenomenon, but the idea has caught on quickly within the gun community. The first Second Amendment sanctuary county-wide movement emerged last year after the election of Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) allowed Democrats to propose sweeping gun reform in the state legislature without fear of their bills getting vetoed. Some of the proposed measures included raising the state's minimum age for firearm ownership from 18 to 21 and prohibiting civilian ownership of certain types of weapons and body armor. These measures prompted Effingham County in southern Illinois to pass a resolution declaring all of the Democrats' proposals unconstitutional. Thus was the Second Amendment sanctuary movement born.

Some solidly red states, like Alaska, Idaho, Wyoming, and Kansas, had already passed state-wide measures declaring that the states will not comply with any federal gun laws that they view as unconstitutional before the movement officially began. For example, Idaho's 2009 resolution specifically opposes the establishment of a federal gun licensing procedure.

But, since Effingham County's declaration, the movement has gained support in local communities across 19 states. In more liberal states, Second Amendment sanctuary legislation is being passed at the county level, and even the city level, such as in Needles, Calif.

Many proponents of the Second Amendment sanctuary movement cite a cultural disconnect between their cities and their rural communities in deciding to join the movement. When Florence County became Wisconsin's first sanctuary county on Nov. 12, Florence County Sheriff Dan Miller told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the measure, "sends a message that all of Wisconsin is not exactly the same. We have some different beliefs up north. We tend to be a little more conservative. We like our guns. We believe in God." Similarly, Virginia gained five new sanctuary counties in the southern, more rural, parts of the state when Democrats took control of the state's legislature earlier this month and promptly began proposing gun control legislation.

It is important to note that these resolutions do not carry the force of law. As Virginia House of Delegates member Ken Plum (D–Reston) points out, "[t]he notion that you can have a locality void a state law by declaring yourself a sanctuary simply is not going to hold up in court." But laws, at the end of the day, need somebody to enforce them, and many sheriffs and police officers in counties where Second Amendment sanctuary resolutions have been passed support their communities' decisions, or at the bare minimum, aren't willing to stringently enforce the legislatures' laws. Again, immigration sanctuary cities are a good parallel for understanding this phenomenon, as are state decisions to legalize marijuana despite federal prohibition. State and federal laws cannot be effectively enforced by only state and federal law enforcers. Cops and local sheriffs who make laws they don't like their lowest priority aren't doing anything illegal, but their decision effectively nullifies the laws in question for all but the boldest and biggest law-breakers.

While some sheriffs of Second Amendment sanctuaries, like Weld County, Colorado, Sheriff Steve Reams, deny supporting the decision of gun owners to disobey certain state gun laws, they also admit that enforcing these types of laws aren't their top priorities. Other sheriffs, like Lake County, Florida, Sheriff Peyton Grinnell, "fully" support their county's decision, suggesting that, at least for now, Second Amendment sanctuaries might be an effective way to resist gun control legislation, and aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

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  1. //While some sheriffs of Second Amendment sanctuaries, like Weld County, Colorado, Sheriff Steve Reams, deny supporting the decision of gun owners to disobey certain state gun laws, they also admit that enforcing these types of laws aren’t their top priorities.//

    Yea, well, I doubt it is anyone’s first priority to gratuitously fuck with people that have guns and actually know how to use them.

    1. Yeah, even if they don’t agree with the whole sanctuary idea, cops’ #1 priority is going home safe every day. Fucking with gun owners isn’t the easiest way to accomplish that.

  2. According to longtime libertarian activist Michael Hihn, the correct libertarian position is to enact far more comprehensive gun safety laws than we currently have. Unfortunately as long as there are Republicans in office and Republican-appointed judges on the bench, this will be difficult.

    Eventually, though, the Koch / Reason open borders agenda will transform the entire country into a single-party Democrat-controlled government like California has now. Then the progressive / libertarian alliance for gun sense will triumph over the gun fetishists.


    1. Everybody just ignores you now, take a hint.

    2. Democrats want to confiscate your guns and ban armed self-defense despite the abundant evidence that gun control INCREASES violent crime instead of decreasing it anywhere!

      Official government statistics from the USA and UK show that the violent crime rate in disarmed Britain has been going UP while the rate in well-armed USA has gone DOWN.

      Britain’s violent crime rate in 2017 increased to 2,213 per 100,000 people while the USA rate decreased to just 394. The violent crime rate gap has WIDENED to at least 6.85 more from 4.36 a decade ago. see lots more and comment here or at:

      1. A good link, thanks for posting!

  3. >>Second Amendment sanctuary

    sea to shining sea.

    1. That and the 2nd Amend protection of the PEOPLE’S RIGHT to keep and bear Arms is in the US Constitution.

      Sanctuary cities that protect illegal aliens violate the congressional enumerated power to regulate migrants (article I, Section 9):
      The migration or importation of such persons as any of the states now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each person.

      1. A point outright ignored. One is a Constitutionally protected right of the citizens and the other is an illegal violation in favor of illegal aliens.

        1. Well, yes, but you only need 2nd amendment sanctuaries in the first place because of state governments setting out to violate the 2nd amendment, and the courts falling down on their job of stopping it.

          So, while the point ought to be legally relevant to how the two sorts of “sanctuaries” get treated, the very need for them makes the point irrelevant as a practical matter.

      2. This clause is about slavery.

        1. …and what else? You can do it. Read troll. Read. We believe in you!

      3. “Sanctuary cities that protect illegal aliens violate the congressional enumerated power to regulate migrants”

        Yeah, no.

        The USSC has already ruled on this. The Federal government cannot delegate its police authority or expenses to the states. The Feds can’t force cities to fund jails or dedicate local law enforcement resources to federal police activities. If the Feds want to undertake the activities, it has to come out of federal tax monies and consume federal resources.

        This means, state and city governments don’t have to pay to hold undocumented immigrants in local jails while ICE takes their time to come pick them up. It’s ICE’s job to pick up and hold people accused of federal crimes. It’s ICE’s job to locate and detain suspected undocumented immigrants not the local traffic cop.

  4. I recall someone who would have endorsed that thought, but he went ‘the full LaVoy.”

    1. And you deserve “the full Kent State.”

      1. Open wider, clinger.

        Or not.

        The result will be the same, although your discomfort level might vary.

        1. //Open wider, clinger.//

          Again with the homophobic slurs. How can such a progressive cling to such anachronisms? Would you talk this way in front of Saint Buttigieg?

          1. I interpreted it as “taking your medicine” not sucking a dick but even it’s open wide and suck my liberal dick. That’s not homophobic maybe masochistic?

            1. It’s homphobic and no one is surprised that you’re a bigot.

          2. Haha. That’s the rev. Always fantasizing about forcing himself on people, and dreaming of the day when he will no longer “permit” “clingers” to “carry on”. He’s a hoot.

            Not to be taken seriously.

        2. Hi, gecko!

        3. Try writing something a little more complex than NPC Response #5, hicklib.

  5. Funny how Ds are freaking out about nullification the moment we start applying sanctuary logic to 2A. Of course they miss the most important distinction of all, which is that the clear Constitutional objection to gun control is not remotely analogous to the unclear Constitutional objection to the federal government requesting states to not actively aid and abet illegal immigrants being pursued by agencies who have proper legal authorization from Congress, but what difference does that make?

    1. States are sovereign entities. They are not required to use their own resources to enforce federal law. If the feds want to enforce federal law, they can do it themselves.

      1. Well, the OP did say that they were “actively aiding and abetting” them, which would be a little different – if it were actually happening, which is pretty questionable.

        1. What does “actively aiding and abetting” mean here? Given that I live in a sanctuary city and state, does “not asking them to prove citizenship in order to report a crime” constitute aiding and abetting? Because, largely, the is all that is done here. Outside of people charged with violent crimes, undocumented immigrants are simply treated the same as legal immigrants.

      2. Poor chemjeffey doesnt know that cities are incorporated entities created by states.

        All states entered into that agreement called the US Constitution and cities are bound by the constitution too.

  6. Is that a Marlin Model 60 in the picture? That 14 Round high capacity tube magazine looks pretty scary to me…

      1. Yes, that is a recent production Marlin Model 60. Cool gun, one of my favorites.

        The Marlin Model 60 with 14 round magazine was the result of New Jersey declaring the original 22″ barrel model with full length 18 round magazine an “assault rifle” for holding 15 rounds or more and banning them under the NJ AWB.

        So first Marlin complied with NJ restrictions by cutting the magazines back to 14 rounds, 4″ shorter than the barrel above it on production models after the NJ AWB went into effect (the .22 LR cartridge is about 1″ long)t. Then Marlin shortened the barrel to 18″ on future production as 22″ barrels were used up so the magazine would keep the traditional full length tube and barrel look favored for tube magazine repeating rifles, whether pump, lever, bolt-action or semi-auto. The magazine length change made the Marlin Model 60 with 22″ barrel and 18″ tube look lame.

        That barrel length change, four inches shorter, made the Marlin Model 60 more a carbine than a rifle.

        That magazine restriction probably saved no lives and prevented no crimes, but did demonstrate the pig headed stupidity of the anti-gunners.

        1. New Jersey: what I refer to as the great American experiment: What life would be like had we not rebelled against Great Britain, or lost the Cold War

  7. Interesting to conflate a declaration that a county will follow the US Constitution over an unconstitutional state law with declaring a city or state will NOT comply with federal law.
    The only actual oath I could find for FL is the Highway Patrol one.
    It begins “I do solemnly swear: I will support, protect and defend the constitution and government of the United States and of the State of Florida; ”
    So any patrolman enforcing a gun control law is violating his oath. No need for a resolution.

    1. I doubt many politicians or cops pay attention to any oaths they make otherwise we wouldn’t have the problems we have today

      1. True, but in this case it’s an easy way to get out of going after people who will shoot at you.

    2. Long ago Tennessee declared the state would not enforce a federal gun control law that violated Article I Section 26 of the State Constitution (right of the citizens of this state to keep and bear arms), like an Assault Weapon Ban on military rifles used for marksmanship training or kept as collectors items. Actually all sections of Article I (declaration of rights) will be protected and federal law to the contrary will get no law enforcement assistance from the state to violate rights the state has said it will protect.

      A few years back, a freshman representative introduced a bill like a 2A sanctuary resolution only to be politely informed it was already state law. Nice to see more counties, and states, joining in.

      The New York/California based anti-gunners operate under the delusion that repealing the federal Second Amendment will allow a federal gun ban to ignore state constitutional RKBA protections. If they try, it could be interesting.

    3. You’ve misunderstood how a Sanctuary City/State works.
      They aren’t declaring their intention to not comply with federal law. They are, in fact, complying with federal law to the letter. Instead, what they are saying is that they will not expend local public resources to pay for federal police activities. This is perfectly legal and has already been upheld by the USSC.

      All of this “illegal sanctuary city” nonsense is just political propaganda. Or, in the words of the famous orange president–fake news.

    1. Who ya gonna call?

    2. Any competent machinist could make, say, a Mac10 or Sten gun without too much trouble. I assume that if the Progressives have their way, they’ll require all machine tools to etch an identifying number on any piece of metal they are used on.

      1. If ability to evade the law is an acceptable reason to not have the law, that pretty much wipes out over half of our legal system. If you can’t stop me from stealing something there’s no reason to have laws against theft, right?

  8. I would think Second Amendment sanctuary cities shouldn’t be compared to immigration sanctuary cities so much as free speech zones – it’s pretty damn sad and pathetic that people don’t consider the whole damn country to be a Second Amendment sanctuary and a free speech zone. It’s right there in the Bill of Rights – what part of “rights” don’t you understand?

    1. Do you see no limit on 2nd Amendment? Given that “arms” aren’t defined, should I be able to own a cannon? Nerve agent? A cruise missile?

      If you do agree that there are acceptable limits on the bearing of arms per the 2nd Amendment, then we’re merely discussion the right place to draw those lines and not whether the lines ought to exist.

  9. Finally! Some good news, and even Texas doing something that does not burden us with shame. Thx Shepardson.

  10. Let’s hope more towns will also start denying services to illegals.

    1. Actually, are they required to, by the Feds?
      I believe this is what touched off the entire illegal immigration debate over a decade ago.

  11. The problem with turnabout- it’s fair play.

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  14. The left, liberal/progressive, Democrat is all about “taking.” Taking your guns. Taking your tax dollars to give to others who cross our borders.

  15. It’s a Trap!
    2nd Amendment Sanctuaries Threaten Gun Rights

  16. I expect nothing less from Americans.


  17. I’m curious whether any Reason contributors or editors actually own and regularly use firearms.

    1. Highly doubtful.

    2. I’ll bet Shikha’s packing.

    3. J.D. Tuccille definitely does. He had an article a while back about how his son’s home-school curriculum included target practice with rifles and handguns.

    4. My understanding is that Eugene Volokh, proprietor of the Volokh Conspiracy, that moved to Reason a year or two, does own at least one firearm, or at least did at one time. His historical work on the 2nd Amdt was cited approvingly by the Supreme Court in Heller, and was used by them to undercut the historical revisionism so prevalent on the left during the second half of the 20th Century in terms of the history of gun rights in this country.

  18. As a gun enthusiast and single issue voter for gun rights, I applaud this movement.
    The fact that is uses liberals’ illegal alien sanctuary ideas against them is the cherry on the cake.

  19. According to foundational document, The Declaration of Independence, we not only have the right but also have the duty to alter or abolish any government that does not secure our unalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The certainly includes the right to resist intrusions that are contrary to our constitutionally guaranteed rights. The State in which I reside is blue down South but pretty much red in the North. I will expect our local sheriffs to follow suit in the even that any laws or regulations run counter to these rights.

  20. The 2nd Amendment is already egregiously infringed, so more power to these folks, I suppose. Still, I can’t help but chuckle at the notion of (exceedingly selective) ‘Constitutional Conservative’ sheriffs who solemnly swear to honor the intent of the 2nd while eagerly waging the Fed’s Drug War using twisted interpretation(s) of the Interstate Commerce Clause as justification, and non-chalantly tossing the 4th right out the window with each incoming Homeland Security dollar and every shipment of surplus MRAPs, Stingrays and Javelins.

  21. I grew up in Effingham County. I didn’t realize they were the first to create a sanctuary.
    I’m proud of my former neighbors!!

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  23. “[t]he notion that you can have a locality void a state law by declaring yourself a sanctuary simply is not going to hold up in court.”

    Well in an unjust system, no they won’t. But in a just system, they wouldn’t have to declare themselves sanctuary cities, because the courts would do their job and strike down the laws.

  24. Virginia..the home of the authors of the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions…

    The difference between sanctuary cities for illegal aliens versus one for the 2nd amendment is obvious….sanctuary cities are governments which are in violation of the declaration of independence and bill of rights as any goat’s main objective is to protect the life, liberty, and property of it’s citizens…such govts are null and void (and should be abolished by their states or federal govt which is sworn to defend and protect our life and liberties.

    2nd amendment cities are those they stand up for our natural rights…as articulated in the bill of rights.

    Big difference.

    And nullification rights preexist the Constitution..they are natural

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