APACHE COUNTY — It’s official: Apache County’s a “Second Amendment Sanctuary County,” by official resolution of the board of supervisors.
The declaration slipped through on the county’s consent agenda this week, which means the board didn’t actually discuss the ramifications of becoming a sanctuary county.
Presumably, it means Apache County has joined counties across the country determined to prevent the implementation of any gun control measures that make it through Congress or the state legislatures. That could include many measures broadly popular with the public like universal gun background checks, a ban on high-capacity magazines or assault weapons. It could also apply to Red Flag laws favored by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, which would make it easier to temporarily suspend the gun rights of people like those subject to domestic violence orders of protection.
Four western states — including Alaska, Idaho, Wyoming and Kansas — and dozens of counties nationwide have already declared themselves second amendment sanctuaries.
The resolution adopted by the board of supervisors this week declares “that this Board will not authorize or appropriate government funds, resources, employees, agencies, contractors, buildings, detention centers or offices for the purpose of enforcing laws that unconstitutionally infringe on the people’s right to keep and bear arms.”
The resolution doesn’t make any specific reference to present or future gun control measures the county might refuse to enforce. Existing law already requires most gun buyers to register a purchase, except in private sales and places like gun shows. Congress has repeatedly considered, but refused to adopt, new laws to close those loopholes.
Existing law also revokes the right to a gun for people convicted of felonies, domestic violence and violent crimes.
Congress at one time banned assault rifles and high-capacity magazines, laws the courts have upheld. However, Congress subsequently relaxed those restrictions.
A recent upsurge in mass shootings and domestic violence multiple murders have prompted increased public support for “Red Flag” laws, which would make it possible to temporarily take away guns from people without a criminal conviction. Police could confiscate a gun pending a formal court hearing, a provision used in other states in cases of people who have made threats or after the issuance of a order of protection in domestic violence or harassment cases.
Gun regulation a possible issue in the election
The issue could become active in Arizona between now and the general election. The leading Democratic contender for the US Senate is Mark Kelly, a former astronaut and combat pilot. His wife – Tucson congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords – survived an assassination attempt by an apparently deranged gunman that killed four other people. Kelly has advocated for stricter gun control measures nationally, including Red Flag laws.
About 60 percent of Americans favor stricter gun control laws, which includes 86 percent of Democrats and 31 percent of Republicans.
Kelly seeks to unseat appointed incumbent Sen. Martha McSally, also a combat pilot. She has carefully avoided taking a position on new gun control legislation – although she has in the past supported tighter background checks. She was considered a moderate when she served as a Congresswoman, but has become outspokenly conservative since her appointment to the Senate.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has in the past supported some version of a Red Flag law in cases where an order of protection cites a severe threat. Backlash from conservative Republicans has prevented any movement towards adoption of such a law in the legislature.
It’s unclear whether the declaration that Apache County’s now a “second amendment sanctuary” means the county sheriff’s office, probation department and courts would be directed to not enforce such a law if enacted.
Peter Aleshire covers county government and other topics for the Independent. He is the former editor of the Payson Roundup. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org