Let it never be said that one bad idea doesn’t deserve another.
So it is that for several years now, liberals have been signaling their superior virtue to the world by embracing so-called “sanctuary cities.” Under this label, cities, counties and/or states choose not to cooperate in enforcing federal law regarding people who are in the U.S. illegally. Local law enforcement is directed not to help the feds enforce the nation’s laws.
Never mind that this has created a backlash against people who are here legally — and in some cases are actually U.S. citizens. Sanctuary city enthusiasts sing “Kumbaya” and embrace all comers, whether they have been vetted by the U.S. government or not.
Now comes word that a new sanctuary movement is growing, only this one is for the Second Amendment to keep and bear arms. District 15B state Rep. Shane Mekeland, R-Foley, has sent a letter to the Sherburne County Board of Commissioners asking it to become the first jurisdiction in Minnesota to pass a resolution declaring the county a Second Amendment sanctuary. District 15B includes parts of Sherburne, Benton, Wright and Morrison counties.
This movement is growing rapidly. Wikipedia reports that the first county board to use the word “sanctuary” in its Second Amendment resolution occurred in Effingham County, Illinois, on April 16, 2018.
So far, four states, (Alaska, Idaho, Wyoming and Kansas), have designated themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries. In five other states (Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, New Mexico and Virginia), a majority of the counties within each state have declared themselves to be gun sanctuaries. Altogether, 408 counties nationwide have adopted similar resolutions, as have 40 cities, 64 townships and three New Jersey boroughs.
By contrast, Wikipedia also reports that nine states (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon and Vermont), 134 counties and 36 cities have declared themselves immigrant sanctuaries. Before Second Amendment boosters think, “We’re bigger,” however, one should note that those 36 cities that are immigrant sanctuaries include the likes of Los Angeles, New York City and Philadelphia.
“Virtue signaling” is endemic on both sides of the political divide.
At this rate, it’s doubtful that the “sanctuary” movement is going to die anytime soon. In fact, the chances are growing that it will spill over to other issues.
For example, what if St. Louis County were to declare itself a “mining sanctuary,” and refuses to abide by all those pesky state and federal environmental regulations and processes? What if other counties declare themselves to be “farming sanctuaries” to get the DNR and EPA off their backs or if the state declares itself to be a “tariff-free zone”? What if school districts declare themselves to be “fully funded sanctuaries” who refuse to comply with unfunded state and federal mandates for programs like special education?
What would Gov. Walz or President Trump do? Send the National Guard into every nook and cranny in the state? This could quickly get out of hand.
We are seeing a reassertion of community rights in the wake of the utter failure of the federal government to deal meaningfully with those issues that are affecting all of us at the local level. If those we elect to go to St. Paul or Washington can’t solve the problems, then don’t be surprised if individual communities address them on their own.
Nevertheless, the sanctuary movement is a bad idea, and perhaps Second Amendment sanctuary advocates and immigrant sanctuary backers can help each other see why.
This is not a new issue in the United States. Back in 1832, the Nullification Crisis involved the state of South Carolina’s opposition to federal tariffs. Tariffs were originally created to help protect the nation’s struggling manufacturing sector, but were generally opposed by farming interests. Sound familiar?
The problem began shortly before Andrew Jackson became president in 1832. Jackson tried to fix the problem, helping to enact the Tariff Act of 1832. However, southerners thought that act did not go far enough. Vice President John Calhoun, a South Carolinian, led the opposition and resigned the vice presidency to run for the Senate, where he would have more influence in achieving congressional action. Calhoun believed in nullification, which meant if a state believed a federal law was unconstitutional, it could declare that the law would not apply in its state.
In March 1833, the Congress approved a measure to use force to bring South Carolina into compliance with the law, but also passed a tariff compromise bill acceptable to South Carolina. War was thus averted, but Jackson wrote on May 1, 1833, “The tariff was only a pretext, and disunion and Southern confederacy the real object. The next pretext will be the negro, or slavery question.”
I consider myself a supporter of legal, vetted immigration and of letting law-abiding gun owners keep their guns. Because I’m an American, I don’t always get my way. I can live with that because I accept the framework of government that we have. It requires all of us to obey the laws passed by our elected representatives, while allowing us, through that framework, to change the laws we don’t like. I’d suggest that sanctuary advocates of all stripes should turn away from chaos and operate within that system. None better has ever been created.
Tom West, now retired, is the former general manager of this paper. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.