On Monday, the McDowell County Board of Commissioners declared McDowell to be a “Second Amendment Sanctuary County” and announced they strongly support the rights of citizens to keep and bear arms. In addition, the commissioners approved an agreement with the state for the long-awaited public shooting range.
During the first regular meeting for 2020, Commission Chairman David Walker said several people had asked him and other members that the board to endorse the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The amendment states “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
“We live in a rural county where people love to hunt and fish and target shoot,” said Walker at Monday’s meeting.
Several local governments in the United States have declared themselves to be Second Amendment Sanctuaries in response to efforts by some lawmakers to place more restrictions on gun ownership. Here in North Carolina, Rutherford and Cherokee are among the counties which have adopted such a resolution.
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Other McDowell commissioners expressed their strong support for the Second Amendment and their concerns about laws which would attempt to infringe on the rights of gun owners.
“It’s appalling to me that we have politicians who want take our rights away,” said Commissioner Barry McPeters. “It’s absurd.”
He added he is “150%” in support of the resolution.
Commissioner Lynn Greene said the right to keep and bear arms is intended to make sure citizens can defend themselves.
The commissioners voted unanimously to adopt the resolution, which was met with applause by members of the public at Monday’ meeting.
The non-binding resolution is not an ordinance or law but rather a statement from the commissioners. It is modeled after Rutherford’s resolution.
“Whereas, the McDowell County Board of Commissioners is concerned about the passage of any bill or legislation which could be interpreted as infringing the rights of the citizens of McDowell County to keep and bear arms,” reads a portion of the resolution. “Whereas, the criminal misuse of firearms is not a reason to unconstitutionally infringe the rights of law-abiding citizens of McDowell County; and whereas, the McDowell County Board of Commissioners wishes to express its intent to stand as a Sanctuary County for Second Amendment rights and to oppose, within the limits of the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of the State of North Carolina, and McDowell County’s authority, any efforts to unconstitutionally restrict such rights, and to use such legal means at its disposal to protect the rights of the citizens to keep and bear arms.
“Now, therefore be it resolved that the McDowell County Board of Commissioners do hereby declare its intent to uphold the Second Amendment rights of the citizens of McDowell County and that public funds, resources, employees, buildings or offices not be used to unconstitutionally restrict Second Amendment rights or to aid or assist in the unconstitutional restriction of the rights under the Second Amendment of the citizens of McDowell County to keep and bear arms; and furthermore that the Board of Commissioners hereby declares McDowell County, North Carolina, as a ‘Second Amendment Sanctuary.’”
In a similar matter, the commissioners approved a 25-year agreement with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC) for the establishment of the long-awaited public shooting range.
Officials with state WRC sent an agreement to McDowell officials for their review and consideration. The agreement lays out each party’s responsibilities for the development and operation of the public shooting range facility.
The proposed range for McDowell will be located on county-owned land off Interstate 40 along Ashworth Road. It will have a 25-yard range with a 20-foot backstop and a 100-yard range with a 20-foot backstop. The estimated cost is $2.47 million and the state WRC will pay for most of the project. The county will provide the land, hire staff and perform routine maintenance such as mowing the grass. Any major repairs would be done by the state.
The commissioners voted unanimously to approve the agreement.
The state previously asked the county to donate the land to the project in order to meet the local match of 10%. However, several commissioners suggested last month that it might be more advantageous for the county to provide the 10% match in cash, instead of giving the property. If the current cost estimate is used, that match would be approximately $250,000. At the December meeting, the commissioners voted to give the $250,000 and retain the land.
The planned shooting range for McDowell could be in operation by the summer of 2021.