In early 2020, there was a great deal of discussion concerning the Second Amendment and the role of local government in enforcing laws that may be an infringement on the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms. Those concerns were then, and continue to be, a reaction to proposals by some legislators at both the national and state levels to severely restrict, or even prohibit, the ownership of certain firearms by Americans. Some have even called for the forcible confiscation of those firearms from millions of our citizens who have never, and never will, use them to harm other innocent people.
I think concerns about such initiatives are valid and that we are right to be on guard against any such overreach by government, at any level. It has often been said that, “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty,” and I commend those in our community who continue to work hard to keep this issue front and center in the public consciousness.
So in January of 2020, a group of local Second Amendment activists came together to “do something.” Early discussions included consideration of proposing an ordinance declaring Daviess County a “Sanctuary County” where federal or state laws that (in some’s opinion) infringed upon the Constitutional right to “keep and bear arms” would NOT be enforced.
While I then, and still do, concur with that sentiment, it’s much more complicated than some first realize; particularly for law enforcement, as such arbitrary “selective enforcement” would require officers and deputies to interpret the Constitution and thus determine which law to enforce and which to ignore. I can think of no greater threat to one’s personal liberties than taking that role away from our independent judiciary and vesting it in the hands of the police. Such a precedent could, I fear, someday lead to devastating, unintended consequences extending to issues not only related to firearm ownership.
Too, such an “ordinance” would clearly violate Kentucky Revised Statute (KRS) 65.870, passed by the Kentucky General Assembly in 2012 (ironically, to address the concerns of Second Amendment infringements by local governments), rendering it null and void with no standing in law.
All of this considered, the Kentucky United Daviess County chapter decided in January 2020, rather than an ordinance, to petition the Fiscal Court to consider passage of a “resolution,” leaving no doubt that we value the right to keep and bear arms and will oppose any attempt to lessen that right. As an official expression of the will of the voters of Daviess County, such a resolution carries far more weight than mere statements by other stakeholders. Too, such a resolution would NOT violate the aforementioned KRS, as confirmed by a Kentucky Attorney General written opinion in February 2020.
Sadly, the sitting Fiscal Court in 2020 decided to not pursue the matter and never placed it on the Court’s agenda for consideration and vote.
Since then, 113 of Kentucky’s 120 counties (and six of its cities) have passed similar resolutions. This issue remains as relevant today, arguably more so, as it was three years ago. And the Kentucky United Daviess County chapter is renewing its efforts in petitioning a newly elected Fiscal Court to act on their concerns.
In language very similar to that oath I took as a young Marine before deploying to Vietnam, in taking the Oath of Office as Sheriff, I swore I would, “…support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of this Commonwealth…” This I did to the best of my ability every day for 48 years. Though now retired, I remain strongly committed to that premise. I am hopeful and would encourage our recently-elected leaders, specifically the Fiscal Court, to do likewise in hearing the Kentucky United Daviess County chapter’s voice and unanimously vote to pass this resolution.
Retired Sheriff Keith Cain