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County declared a Second Amendment Sanctuary

Harlan County Fiscal Court members, along with Harlan County Judge-Executive Dan Mosley, unanimously passed a resolution on Tuesday to officially declare the county as a Second Amendment Sanctuary.

“This resolution is something that is passed in a lot of places throughout the country,” Mosley said as he referred to a map of the United States with the counties that have passed a similar resolution in green.

He added he does not know of another county in Kentucky that has been declared as a Second Amendment Sanctuary.

“I think everyone in this room are people that value our rights — particularly, our rights to bear arms.”

Although a resolution is a non-binding document and does not carry the weight of law, it is the county government’s belief the document can express the majority’s values in Harlan County. It also makes a statement to any opposing entity, whether it be state or federal, that the people would resist any entity’s attempt to infringe upon their rights, which in this case would be the rights of legal gun owners.

Mosley said he already believes Harlan County to be a Second Amendment Sanctuary before the passing of the resolution, mentioning the locals who have fought and died in war to protect this right.

“I believe, strongly, that there are more guns in Harlan County than there are people,” he said lightheartedly. “So, we want to pass this resolution because our country is in a pivotal time.”

Mosley spoke briefly of the events taking place in the neighboring state of Virginia, with “some of the laws that are being considered” and how 95 percent of the counties have passed a resolution similar to the one being passed in Harlan.

“I think, at the local level, all of us are gun owners. I know all of these people personally. All of us recognize that law-abiding citizens rights should not be infringed upon,” Mosley said. “This resolution stands in favor of law-abiding citizens.”

Mosley read the resolution aloud to those in attendance, placing emphasis on “We, the people of Harlan County, Kentucky, through this resolution hereby declare our rights, our freedom, and our liberty as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States of America.”

“I will mention there is a bill that has been pre-filed, and maybe Representative [Chris] Fugate can speak more on that momentarily, but it’s bill request 354 and that’s relating to firearms and making appropriations,” Mosley said. “What it does is defines assault weapons and large capacity ammunition feeding devices and creates a new section to criminalize the possession and transfer of them. It also criminalizes the possession of unregistered assault weapons and requires owners of those weapons to store them in a manner which renders them inoperable to unauthorized users.

“So, there’s definitely a bill out there that’s being considered. This also creates a weapon registration program and a ‘buy back’ program under the state police.”

Representative Chris Fugate said the right to bear arms “really started before the inception of our nation.”

“If you read or if you’ve ever heard the story of the The Black Robe Regiment, it’s a story of preachers in 1775 who, under their robes they preached in, carried weapons,” Fugate said. “That right to bear arms is important to us, not just to own guns, but for the protection of our families, our property, the things we have – it’s our right to have them.

“As far as the bill request that’s been put out, I really don’t think it’ll make it to the committee. But if it does, I promise you that I’ll fight against it. We have to be alert. We have to stand guard.”

County resident Robert Harmon stood to speak when the floor was opened to the public and expressed his gratitude for the teamwork he has seen between Democrats and Republicans to take the strides necessary for passage of the resolution.

“It really pleases me. On my way down here and last night, I kept hearing that there’s so many Democrats in Harlan and that this would never pass,” he said. “This is one of those proud moments when you see everybody on board, and I’m really happy to be part of this.”

Harmon said he served in the army and fought for the right to continue to bear arms, adding “it don’t state in the Bill of Rights the type of weapons you’re allowed to have.”

“Judge, I think the importance of the Constitutional Amendments are to protect our citizens and give them the rights that we’re entitled. By that order, I make a motion to approve this resolution,” said District 2 Magistrate Bill Moore.

The motion was seconded by District 1 Magistrate Clark “Sparky” Middleton and was signed by Mosley and Harlan County Clerk Donna Hoskins.