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News Maryland Carroll County Westminster

Carroll commissioners pass resolution opposing gun control bill

Carroll County became the third county in the state this month to pass a resolution stating their opposition to the Maryland Firearms Safety Act of 2013 Wednesday.

The Carroll County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to approve a resolution deeming Carroll a "2nd Amendment Sanctuary County" during a forum at Carroll Community College.

The resolution signifies that the Board of County Commissioners has granted their approval of the Sheriff and State's Attorney using their discretion in implementing the new law.

"We are not going to allow our constitutional rights to be infringed upon," Commissioner Richard Rothschild said. "We expect them (Annapolis) to start respecting the will of our citizens."

The forum was attended by more than 220 people interested in learning about and commenting on the resolution. Commissioner Dave Roush was absent, but submitted a statement in favor of the resolution.

Cecil and Harford counties have already passed similar resolutions stating they opposed the Firearm Safety Act.

Carroll's resolution is effective immediately.

The Firearm Safety Act, set to take effect Oct. 1, bans the sale of 45 types of rifles and magazines, limits magazine sizes and requires background checks before gun purchases.

The county resolution states that the board believes the recently passed gun control measure is unconstitutional legislation and that Carroll County Government will not authorize government funds or resources to enforce any element of the gun law that infringe on the right of the people to keep and bear arms.

These elements include registering lawfully owned firearms, prohibiting the ownership of non-fully automatic firearms, prohibitions limiting hand grips and magazine capacities, background checks beyond those customarily required when purchasing a gun, and restrictions prohibiting the possession of lawfully acquired firearms or ammunition by adults.

Rothschild said the resolution demonstrates the three branches of county government, including the county commissioners, Sheriff, and State's Attorney, working together to use "the appropriate levels of discretion" in upholding the Constitution.

"It is our goal to protect you (county residents) from blind prosecution under a law that seeks to incriminalize you simply for exercising rights already protected by the Second Amendment," he said.

The resolution is not intended to prohibit the sale or possession of firearms to felons, individuals with a history of mental illness, drunkards, or the requirement of reasonable safety training, provided that the training is readily available, timely and affordable.

Commissioners president Doug Howard said this resolution does not change the law, but instead serves as a rallying cry showing that the commissioners will stand for the citizens of Carroll.

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction," he said. "We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream, it must be fought for, protected, and passed on to them to do the same."

Carroll County State's Attorney Jerry Barnes and Sheriff Ken Tregonning both spoke in favor of the commissioner's resolution.

The resolution states that the Board supports the Carroll County Sheriff's decision in the discretionary enforcement of the law.

The Board will also support the State's Attorney of Carroll County if they decide to refuse to prosecute charges against a citizen detained for not complying with regulations under the gun law, unless that individual is engaged in a crime of violence, has a felony record or a history of dangerous mental illness.

Barnes said he will base his decisions on whether to prosecute using "sound discretion in order to ensure that justice prevails in each and every case."

But Rothschild urged residents not to push the limits with Barnes in his discretionary decision making.

"They're walking a very fine tightrope trying to recognize the fact that this law could needlessly criminalize citizens," he said.

County-owned firearms ranges will not be changed as a result of the gun law.

Carroll's resolution more closely mirrors that of Cecil, which also states that no county funds or resources will be used in enforcing any regulations under the new law.

Harford's resolution states that the county council recommends county officials "further analyze this legislation to insure that there are no restrictions or regulations that inhibit, reduce, or impinge what we believe are our law-abiding citizens' Second Amendment rights."

Rothschild said he has spoken to officials from "several" counties who are considering similar resolutions.

He said they could also pass a similar or tougher resolution in the coming months.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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