Could St. Mary’s County Become a Second Amendment Sanctuary?

LEXINGTON PARK, Md. — Fueled by fear of encroachment on constitutional rights by the Maryland Legislature, a discussion among St. Mary’s County residents has exploded throughout the past week over the feasibility of turning the county into a Second Amendment (2A) sanctuary.

While there are a number of bills currently on the books that could tighten firearm regulations, a great deal of the recent hysteria appears to be resulting from how Delegate Brian Crosby [D-29B] recently voted on House Bill 4, requiring additional background checks on secondary firearm transfers.

“There's a lot of misconceptions about it, but all it is is a background check,” Crosby explained. “If you read the actual bill, there's a million exceptions in there that a lot of people keep saying. ‘Well, what if I take my kid hunting?’ If that's the instance then you're exempted twice under the bill the way it [currently] reads. So, I think it's important to understand what those exemptions are.”

Crosby emphasized how this is “the only bill to date” that he has supported that has come to the floor that has involved guns.

“I don't think the bulk of people recognize how many exemptions there truly are, for hunting for family members for going to the range… you can still borrow your buddy's gun and go to the shooting range, that is part of the bill,” Crosby said.

However, this bill is one of many that has citizens concerned. House Bill 1261 was another recently filed piece of legislation which further regulates “assault long guns.” St. Mary’s County Sheriff Tim Cameron said that while he is unsure entirely what sanctions would be included under a Maryland 2A sanctuary, he would support it.

“I think it's largely symbolic,” Cameron said. “[And] I don't undermine the notion of symbolism here. I think it sends a clear and distinct message to our legislators that the citizens of this county, through their elected officials, are for a second amendment sanctuary and that they don't want encroachment on their second amendment rights.”

Although Cameron said there are “several bills” that he believes “completely encroach upon our constitutional rights” currently being debated in Annapolis, he appears more concerned with addressing how some legislation would or would not be enforced if passed in it’s current state.

“I'm still obliged to enforce state law,” Cameron explained. “[But] with that said, if there was something I felt placed me in a position where I'm violating The Constitution, I would seek redress through the courts.”

It appears that a majority of the entirely republican board of St. Mary’s County Commissioners have verbally expressed support for turning the county into a 2A Sanctuary. Commissioners Eric Colvin, John O’Connor, and Todd Morgan all told that as long as the locally elected public officials are on the same page, that drafting a resolution would make sense.

“I am a strong supporter of our 2nd Amendment rights,” Commissioner Morgan said. “I believe a public discussion between the St. Mary's County Commissioners, the Sheriff and States Attorney is warranted so we clearly understand each others responsibilities and the scope and implications of a 2A sanctuary county, and are united in our decisions.”

A number of concerned citizens and firearms owners across the state are not taking kindly to recently proposed legislation. A Facebook group titled “St. Mary’s 2A Sanctuary — Maryland”, which was formed on Feb. 8 has already reached over 5,300 members and has been rapidly expanding. The goal of the group is stated as “[to] transform St. Mary’s County of Maryland into a Second Amendment sanctuary…”, and it appears to have sparked conversations with a number of county officials.

“I would say that you have a vast majority of citizens in the county that are supportive of us becoming the Second Amendment sanctuary county,” Commissioner O’Connor said. “The gun legislation that is attempting to be passed by beltway counties is in my opinion targeting the wrong people, it's not targeting the criminals. It's targeting the law abiding gun owners who are doing things right. And that seems to be the message that they always miss… that the criminals don't care about these laws.”

Nonetheless, many local public officials have expressed how expansive gun control legislation being pushed throughout the country have been shaping the county for this moment.

“I believe that national politics play a role in our state politics and the local politics,” O’Connor explained. “If you're watching what is happening in Virginia, if you're watching what is going on nationally with gun control… I think that it has [led to] a big push locally.”

“Regardless of what law you put on the books to restrict these things, if a bad guy wants to get a gun, he's going to get a gun,” O’Connor said.

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