National calls for stronger gun control legislation have prompted some Swain County residents to ask commissioners to make the county a 2nd Amendment sanctuary. Donna Cole brought forward almost 1000 signatures to the commission in support of the resolution in March. Cole said that citizens need to be able to defend themselves.
“If you take the weapons away from the regular people, then the only people that are going to have weapons are the criminals,” said Cole, who is 66.
The petition started before the two mass shootings in March in Atlanta and Bolder. Cole explained that “illegal” immigrants, BLM and ANTIFA are groups that she is concerned about.
Cole said 76 counties in North Carolina are 2nd Amendment sanctuaries, citing Sanctuary Counties.com. The website describes itself as “dedicated to the law-abiding, Constitution loving citizens who refuse to simply give up their Second Amendment rights.” These resolutions are largely symbolic.
Some of those counties – like nearby Macon and Haywood – passed resolutions to protect the entire U.S. Constitution in 2020. Cole said she submitted a copy of Macon County’s resolution to the commissioners but says that the 2nd Amendment is the only amendment that is “under attack.”
“It is a constitutional right. We don’t go against background checks. I think everyone should go take a class and learn the gun safety,” said Cole. She got her concealed carry permit in August.
This month, North Carolina law makers brought forward three bills loosening gun restrictions on school property and for EMTs.
Patrick Smith, co-founder of the Armed Patriots, also spoke at the meeting, according to the Smoky Mountain Times.
Smith was not in favor of a “constitutional protection” resolution.
The Armed Patriots, a 2nd amendment group, held a rally for President Trump in July 2020. About 200 people attended the event, many with firearms including members of the Three Percenters militia. Smith said that he was concerned about the state of the county at the rally.
“I feel like this is harmless, this is the most harmless manner,” he said, referring to the rally in an interview with BPR . “Because if things keep going south, if things keep going worse. I’m afraid that people are going to take these firearms and use them in manners they shouldn’t be used.”
The Bryson City group also gathered to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights in downtown Sylva in August 2020.
It is illegal to bring firearms to a “demonstration” in North Carolina. District Attorney Ashley Welch explained to BPR in 2020 that it is the responsibility of law enforcement on the scene to make the call of whether a crime is being committed.