The Rise of “Second Amendment Sanctuaries”

Across the country, state legislatures have enacted stricter gun control laws to stem the tide of gun violence. Now, an increasing number are being met with resistance by local law enforcement officials who say they’re being asked to enforce rules that violate the U.S. Constitution.

The so-called “Second Amendment sanctuary” movement claims to draw its inspiration from America’s sanctuary cities.

“There are whole sanctuary county, city, and state movements, and those are essentially saying 'Hey, we can shield immigrants from the federal law,'" Tony Mace, Sheriff of Cibola County, New Mexico told Pacific Standard Magazine. "They're picking and choosing which laws they want to follow as a state, so we're thinking as a county, why can't we take this back to our commissioners and say we're going to draft a resolution that says our counties are Second Amendment sanctuary counties."

Cibola is one of 25 counties in New Mexico that have passed Second Amendment sanctuary ordinances. In most cases, they amount to symbolic statements of disapproval toward new gun laws. But in some cases, sheriffs have flatly said they won’t enforce the statutes.

Second Amendment sanctuary movements are also on the march in Washington, Nevada, Oregon, and Illinois. The movement, which began in counties, has spread to cities as well

The trend has prompted warnings from state officials. In February, after 13 county sheriffs said they would refuse to enforce new age requirements for semiautomatic gun purchases, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson warned they could be held liable.

Tripp Stelnicki, Communications Director for New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, was similarly critical. Citing sanctuary city policies is “cynical,” he said. And if someone has legal concerns about state laws, they should take them to the courts.

Opponents of the new firearm regulations don’t disagree. They’re mounting plenty of legal challenges too.