GALLIPOLIS — Gallia officials and residents crowded in front of the Gallia Courthouse steps Thursday afternoon to declare Gallia County a Second Amendment sanctuary area in recognition of the right to bear arms in light of a movement regionally seeking to establish Second Amendment sanctuary areas.
“This is great to see such a crowd on a special day as this,” said Gallia Commissioner Harold Montgomery. “Last week, we had a group of folks come to our meeting asking that we would consider the adoption of a Second Amendment sanctuary county. We had a resolution presented to us and during this week had conversations with our county prosecutor, Mr. Holdren, and sheriff, Mr. Champlin, fellow commissioners, Brent Saunders and David Smith. In working with this, our prosecutor has put together a proclamation that we feel is specific for Gallia County.”
Gallia Commissioner David Smith read the resolution before the assembled and commissioners voted unanimously to approve it. What follows are excerpts from the resolution.
“Whereas, Article 15, Section 7 of the Ohio Constitution states: ‘Every person chosen or appointed to any office under this state, before entering upon the discharge of its duties, shall take an oath or affirmation, to support the Constitution of the United States, and of this state, and also an oath of office’; and whereas, County Commissioner Harold Montgomery, County Commissioner David Smith and County Commissioner Brent Saunders have all taken such oath and believe it to be binding on them morally, ethically and legally; and … whereas, the Gallia County Board of Commissioners is concerned about the passage of any legislation, agency rules, executive orders or opinions; or any court rulings containing language which could be interpreted as unconstitutionally infringing the rights of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms; and whereas the Gallia County Board of Commissioners believe the best way to prevent gun violence is to address the growing mental health crisis; hold those accountable who use a political agenda to disarm law-abiding citizens, and the enforcement of already existing criminal laws that aim to stop violence and not to limit the inalienable rights of law-abiding citizens; and now therefore, be it resolved that the Board hereby expresses its intent to preserve, protect and defend the Second Amendment through any and all lawful means, in order to uphold the rights of the citizens of Gallia County, Ohio…”
“We are common sense people that know what our Constitution says but oftentimes our lawmakers forget about it,” said Gallia Prosecutor Jason Holdren. “…We’re putting a stake in the ground to remind Columbus and Washington D.C. that we still know what the Constitution says and we know what our rights are.”
Holdren lauded area resident Tony Thompson’s efforts for bringing his concerns to the commission about what he considered to be government overreach into American rights to bear arms across the country and asked the commissioners to consider making Gallia County a Second Amendment sanctuary county.
“Mr. Thompson, I think it’s real clear it’s important to about all of Gallia County,” said Holdren of the right to bear arms.
“We want to support you and we want to keep each other safe and we don’t want our rights infringed on,” said Gallia Sheriff Matt Champlin to the crowd. “My men and women are out working hard every day to keep our county safe. But we need you just as much as you need us. Thank you for your continued support. May God bless each and every one of us and I want to thank the commissioners and the prosecutor for the hard work on this resolution and moving forward with it today to make Gallia County a sanctuary county for the Second Amendment.”
“The (elected officials) here have taken an oath as well as I have,” said Thompson to area residents at a commissioner meeting in the courthouse last Thursday. “The reason for the visit here is to hold our oath that we have taken (to defend the U.S. Constitution). It shouldn’t be taken lightly. If anybody has taken the oath, it gets inside of your heart. It’s something that you live and die by. At least, I do…”
“I think what started a firestorm were the events in Virginia and folks have been watching that closely,” said Thompson.
Thompson said he felt many “for a long time” have had growing concerns with actions to restrict guns or expand gun control laws across the country, despite recent controversy with proposed “red flag” legislative actions in Virginia.
Red flag laws have been recognized as gun control measures permitting police or family members to petition a court to temporarily remove firearms from individuals who may be considered a danger to others or themselves. Under such laws, a court could potentially extend the duration of a firearm separation depending on circumstances reviewed.
“All we’re wanting to do is to ask our elected officials and leaders to uphold the Constitution,” said Thompson. “For the most part, law-abiding citizens want to be left alone. Typically, those folks who are left alone get out of the politics part of it and they don’t see what’s coming down or going on with it and before they know it, it’s at their backdoor. That’s what I’m here to ask you folks for, to uphold your oath and help protect people.”
Dean Wright is a staff writer with Ohio Valley Publishing and can be reached at 740-446-2342.