Forsyth County becomes latest Second Amendment Sanctuary after 4-3 vote

Forsyth County becomes latest Second Amendment Sanctuary after 4-3 vote
February 18
11:40 2020

The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners recently voted 4-3 to approve a resolution supporting the protection of the Second Amendment, joining hundreds of other cities and counties across the country that have been declared “Second Amendment Sanctuaries.”

The resolution brought before the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners was introduced by Commissioner Gloria Whisenhunt. In response to proposed gun reform by Democrats, Republican lawmakers across the country have passed laws and resolutions to prohibit or impede the enforcement of certain gun control measures such as universal background checks, high capacity magazine bans, assault weapon bans, and others.

Prior to voting on the resolution on Thursday, Feb. 6, the public had the opportunity to share their thoughts on the resolution during a public hearing. During the hearing, the room seemed to be split down the middle with supporters of Whisenhunt’s resolution on one side and those in support of an alternate resolution introduced by Commissioner Fleming el-Amin supporting the entire Bill of Rights on the other. As he stood at the podium facing the Board of Commissioners, John Cox, a retiree from the Forsyth County Sheriff’s office, asked everyone in support of the first resolution to stand, at which point half the room stood up. 

Those in support of Whisenhunt’s resolution argued that the Second Amendment is under attack. 

Melvin Pempsell, who also spoke in support of the resolution, said those who believe that the Second Amendment isn’t under attack are wrong. He said “Somebody here stated that the Second Amendment is not under attack. He is so far wrong that he’s almost living in Disneyland.”

Pempsell said he agrees that criminals should not be allowed to purchase or carry firearms, but they have them and will continue to get them.

“Take all the guns away, they’re going to get them. That will leave some of us unable to defend ourselves and that in itself is wrong,” Pempsell said.

Amy Jones urged the board to vote against the resolution supporting the Second Amendment resolution. Jones said the resolution is a symbolic gesture and holds no legislative power. She said, “Fear is a powerful thing and seems to be the main motivator for such resolutions.” Jones noted that the resolution follows in the footsteps of similar resolutions passed in Davidson County and Virginia. She mentioned the only law that has passed in Virginia, where lawmakers have been presented several different bills related to the purchase of guns, is universal background checks. “Does that warrant all these declarations?” Jones asked.

“Those who are truly concerned with their Second Amendment rights should be less worried about passing needless, redundant resolutions such as this one presented today and more concerned about those people who become emboldened by such measures to cause harm and fear,” Jones continued. “No one is going to take your guns; those rights are guaranteed by the Constitution and by those elected to uphold it. If that is in doubt, consider the fact that innocent people are killed every day because of guns; no one comes for your guns.”

Longtime community activist Al Jabaar said it is a shame that the public has to come before the Board of Commissioners to discuss protecting an Amendment that’s already protected. Jabaar, who is a Army veteran, who earned three Purple Hearts while fighting in Vietnam, said he finds it difficult to listen to people push against stricter gun legislation when children are being gunned down with weapons he used while in combat. 

“It is a shame that we have to come before you and discuss protecting an Amendment that’s already protected,” Jabar said. “If we continue to let people walk around with weapons such as these, we’re going to continue to have mass destruction of our people.”

Before voting, the board had the opportunity to share their comments on the resolutions. Commissioner Tonya McDaniel, who is a Democrat, said the first resolution was unnecessary. 

“There’s no need to think that we’re taking something away from you,” McDaniel said. “In my opinion, option one is unnecessary. What are we saying today? Are we saying the other Amendments don’t matter? So that’s one of the things I think we should consider.”

Before reading the resolution supporting the Second Amendment, Commissioner Whisenhunt said she understands those who fear that their right to own firearms is under attack. She said, “I do understand that there’s differences here in this county and there’s some fear in this county. 

“Some folks do not understand your fear and I do not understand other folk’s fears, but I do share your concern for the Second Amendment.” 

When it came time to vote on the resolution, the four Republican Commissioners, Whisenhunt, Richard Linville, David Plyler and Don Martin, voted for the resolution supporting the Second Amendment. McDaniel, El-Amin and Ted Kaplan, voted against the resolution.

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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