2nd Amendment Sanctuary Ordinance
MICHAEL J. CONSIDINE
I’m writing in reference to State Rep. Stephanie Borowicz’s letter to the county commissioners about enacting a proposed 2nd Amendment Sanctuary Ordinance.
First, let me say that it is State Rep. Borowicz’s right to oppose all gun legislation. To her credit, she ran on the fact that she would, and it is nice to see a politician do what they said they would do.
That said, it is not her right to justify her positions on any legislation using misinformation or nonfactual statements.
In her letter to the commissioners, which has been made public, she says, “Today, I am expressing my complete support for Clinton and Centre counties to enact a 2nd Amendment Sanctuary Ordinance to protect law-abiding 76th District residents against unconstitutional gun control laws imposed in Harrisburg or Washington, D.C. She goes on, “Some of the ‘unlawful acts’ nullified by this 2nd Amendment Sanctuary Ordinance would include Red Flag Gun Confiscation orders, taxation of firearms and ammunition; registration or tracking of guns or gun owners; and any bans or restrictions on legally purchased firearms, ammunition or accessories.”
As I said, she has all the right in the world to oppose any of this legislation and vote against it, but to call any of it unconstitutional is either a gross misunderstanding of the law or a willingness to request that the county breaks the law. Let’s first look at the Red Flag Laws that she calls unconstitutional. As of this date, 18 states have passed Red Flag Laws. Although Red Flag Laws are different in many states, as of this date all that has been challenged in the state courts have been upheld as constitutional.
Let’s consider the pro-gun state of Florida, which has very a strong Stand Your Ground Law. There, in Davis v. Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office (2019), the Florida First District Court of Appeal rejected a challenge to Red-Flag Law, holding that the law is constitutional and does not violate the right to due process.
When Rep. Borowicz tells the commissioners that a 2nd Amendment Sanctuary Ordinance is needed to protect law-abiding 76th District residents against unconstitutional gun control laws imposed in Harrisburg or Washington, D.C., that is not a matter of fact.
As a legal gun owner, I might understand that Rep. Borowicz wants all gun control to be deemed unconstitutional, but what we might want, or wish for, does not make it so. We need to deal with facts and truths when dealing with the public, and the law.
Rep. Borowicz’s response to the governor’s statement that gun owners have the right to be heard was, “Sir, we have not a right to be heard, we have the right to bear arms and it says in our constitution that it shall not be questioned.”
Once again, I understand that she wants that to be true and wishes it was true, but it is not.
Two very simple examples prove her statement not to be true: I cannot go to Miller’s Gun Shop and buy the machine gun I always wanted and that was once prominent on the streets of America, nor can I walk into the courthouse with my handgun. To some, both those examples place an infringement on what they desire to do, but again, neither are unconstitutional.
The Red Flag Law has not yet been challenged at the federal level. To help determine the constitutionality of all the proposed legislation Rep. Borowicz is requesting the commissioners protect us from, one must look at the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case D.C. vs. Heller.
In this case (read it in the upcoming link) the District of Columbia attempted to make it impossible to own a readily functioning handgun in D.C. Heller won his case with the finding — and I quote — “The 2nd Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.”
But what many people don’t know is that the finding also states, and I quote, “Like most rights, the 2nd Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues.
“The court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”
So it is apparent that when Rep. Borowicz says “the constitution says our rights shall not be questioned,” the Supreme Court, when it says, “Like most rights, the 2nd Amendment right is not unlimited,” disagrees with her.
When they go onto say in the Heller case that, “The court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms,” that also disqualifies her argument on many of the other things she mentions in her letter.
Again, while our state representative and many of us might wish some of these things to be so, we cannot just say a thing is unconstitutional just because we don’t like it. And to keep repeating that over and over again does not make it accurate.
Here is that link I mention:
Furthermore, I believe it is irresponsible for a state representative to request that county elected officials determine the constitutionality of a law passed by the state or by Congress. She herself does not have the right to claim a law she does not like as unconstitutional and should know that these laws need to be challenged in the courts to determine constitutionality. We are still a country where rule of law matters and repeating something that is not true over and over again does not change the law.
If she wants to propose a law, she should introduce legislation. I would respectfully request that the county commissioners read the D.C. vs. Heller case and do your own research before you make any decisions about her request for a 2nd Amendment Sanctuary Ordinance. I would hope that a state representative would know the laws and therefore I would question her motives for making such a request. I would need to conclude that either she does not understand the laws and/or constitutionality, or she does and is just doing this as a political stunt for votes.
While all politicians from both sides say and do things purely to get votes, I have always been upset with their willingness to mislead us with information we might like to hear, but which is inaccurate.
What they are telling you is that “you’re not smart enough to figure out the truth, so I can give you want I think you might want to hear and therefore you’ll vote for me.”
When it turns out that what politicians told you does not happen, they can always blame someone else, like in this case, the county commissioners.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t like my intelligence to be insulted by thinking I cannot do my own fact-checking and search for the truth. Even today, in 2020, contrary to what some politicians say, there is no such thing as alternative facts.
Truth is truth and facts are facts.
Question what every politician tells you and do your own research. This is the only way our government can be of the people, by the people, for the people.
If legislators want to affect laws, then legislate, don’t resort to self-serving political stunts just to get votes.