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2nd Amendment Sanctuary Movement Picks Up Steam Across North Carolina

Lilly Knoepp
The Macon County commissioner's meeting was packed on Tuesday night as citizens signed up for public comment on a varitey of issues.

Resolutions calling for individual counties to become 2nd Amendment sanctuaries are sweeping the South due to gun control legislation moving through the Virginia Legislature. In Macon County, one such resolution was discussed Tuesday night: 

The crowd at the Macon County Courthouse was so big that the meeting was moved to a larger room. 

A Facebook post called for supporters of the 2nd Amendment to come out to the meeting. However, more than half of the crowd showed up to speak about completely different issues. Red 4 Ed turned part of the courtroom red as they presented a resolution in support of retired teachers.

Seventh generation Maconian Donnie Holden was one of about four people who did talk about guns.

Credit Lilly Knoepp
Donnie Holden of Macon County said that he was putting forward a proposal for the county to become a 2nd Amendment Sanctuary. Holden says he isn't a member of any group but is thinking of starting an organization in Franklin.

“For everybody wondering I’m 6’9” and 320 lbs,” quipped Holden as he walked to the podium during the public comment period.  

A petition in support of the gun sanctuary in Macon County received over 200 signatures in about 24 hours, he says. Holden outlined a resolution which he says he will send to the board soon.

“A 2nd amendment sanctuary refers to a county’s commitment not to impede a citizen’s rights as granted to them by the constitution and the bill of rights that many have fought and died for,” says Holden, who is not a member of the NRA.  

The gun sanctuary movement is picking up steam across the South.  That’s because of measures the newly-Democratic Virginia General Assembly seems poised to pass – including universal background checks on gun purchases, a limit of one handgun purchase per month, and so-called ‘Red Flag’ laws that would allow guns to be taken away temporarily from someone deemed by a court order to be a danger to themselves or others.

In North Carolina, such measures are extremely unlikely to pass given Republican control of the General Assembly, and the general partisan gridlock that has prevented even a state budget from being approved.  Back in Macon County, commissioners had questions about the constitutionality of a 2nd Amendment Sanctuary. 

Commission Chairman Jim Tate explains: “I know this is obvious but federal and state laws supersede the county. So what they say rises above what we have the power to do in the county.”  

Meanwhile, gun sanctuaries proposals are moving quickly across the state.  Both McDowelland Davidson Counties passed such resolutions this week. Haywood County could join them next week - with Macon not far behind. 


Lilly Knoepp is Senior Regional Reporter for Blue Ridge Public Radio. She has served as BPR’s first fulltime reporter covering Western North Carolina since 2018. She is from Franklin, NC. She returns to WNC after serving as the assistant editor of Women@Forbes and digital producer of the Forbes podcast network. She holds a master’s degree in international journalism from the City University of New York and earned a double major from UNC-Chapel Hill in religious studies and political science.