Adorned in military-pattern camouflage from head to toe, David Johnson stood in front of a packed courthouse in Letcher County this week and proclaimed his support for a local resolution to designate Letcher County a “2nd Amendment Sanctuary.”
The crowd roared in support as Johnson ended his speech, as it did for every other speaker who warned of a perceived impending threat: the federal and state governments’ incursion on gun rights.
Letcher County is one of the latest Kentucky counties to pass such a resolution. It joined about half a dozen others, including Harlan, Leslie and Cumberland counties. Dozens of others have meetings or votes scheduled to consider making their counties Second Amendment “sanctuaries.”
“Tonight, I feel that we the people of Letcher County, and not just Letcher County but the state of Kentucky, and not just the state of Kentucky but of these United States of America, can stand up as law abiding citizens and proclaim that we are constitutional to the bitter end,” Johnson said to the crowd.
The resolutions have picked up significant steam in recent weeks. Multiple advocacy groups on Facebook have attracted thousands of followers. One group, Kentucky United, has garnered more than 70,000 members since its founding Dec. 10, and has spurred several local offshoots.
Letcher County’s resolution mirrors those seen elsewhere in the state. It expresses the “intent to uphold the Second Amendment rights of the citizens,” and “expresses its intent that public funds of the county not be used to restrict the Second Amendment rights of the citizens of Letcher County, or to aid federal or state agencies in the restriction of said rights.”
Johnson and several others in Whitesburg expressed support for the resolution as a practical defense against possible federal or state legislation that could limit access to or possession of certain firearms, ammunition or gun accessories. Johnson also warned against a potential Red Flag Law — legislation that would allow certain people, such as family members or police officers, to ask a judge to order the removal of an individual’s firearms if the person is deemed a threat to himself or others.
Asked whether the resolution could act as an actual legal defense against federal or state gun laws, Letcher County Judge-Executive Terry Adams, a Republican, said he believed the resolution could have some practical impact. Mostly, though, it serves to warn federal and state politicians of the political blowback that could result from supporting gun control legislation, he said.
“I hope this sends a message to our folks in Frankfort and our folks in Washington that we will not stand by and let our rights be taken away,” Adams said.