There was standing room only in the Floyd County fiscal courtroom on Tuesday, as hundreds of people turned out in support of a resolution declaring the county a “Second Amendment Sanctuary.”
The Floyd County Fiscal Court received a standing ovation from the crowd after it approved the resolution.
It notes that the Second Amendment states that a “well-regulated militia” is necessary for the security of the county and that the right to bear arms “shall not be infringed.” It also highlights Supreme Court rulings that affirmed the right to bear arms and explains that the fiscal court is “concerned about the passage of any bill containing language which could be interpreted as infringing on the rights” of citizens to bear arms.
“...the Floyd County Fiscal Court wishes to express opposition to any law that would unconstitutionally restrict the rights of citizens of Floyd County to keep and bear arms ... and express its intent to stand as a Sanctuary County for Second Amendment rights and to oppose ... any efforts to unconstitutionally restrict such rights,” the resolution states.
Although the courtroom was full with people standing around the room and outside the door, only two people addressed the fiscal court prior to the vote, military veterans Bryan Taylor and David Pennington.
Both of them informed the fiscal court that their vote on the resolution would impact the votes they would receive at the ballot box.
Taylor said the oath he took when joined the military has “no expiration date.”
“I know I’ve stood in deserts. I’ve stood in jungle environments. I’ve, as a combat medic, I’ve patched up young men who went and died for this country, for that flag and the Constitution for which we stand for,” he said.
He referenced Marbury v. Madison, an 1803 Supreme Court case that stated that “a law repugnant to the constitution is void,” highlighted deaths he witnessed as member of the military and talked about colonial times, saying he will “die for that flag.”
“Ladies and gentlemen, I tell you today as God as my witness I will not surrender my rights in this nation,” Taylor said, hitting the podium with his fist. The crowd applauded as he reiterated, “I will not.”
He talked about the resolution being “highly symbolic,” and said approving it would raise awareness about gun rights. He warned fiscal court members that they would not be reelected if they did not support it.
“Folks, if you’re holding a political office and you hear a tick, that’s your career dissipation clock,” Taylor said. “We won’t do it with guns. We’ll do it with our words and we’ll do it downstairs in that voting room and you will not have a job in this county or this state ever again.”
Listing wars in which soldiers died, he told the fiscal court, “Do not surrender.”
Attendees applauded and gave him a standing ovation.
Pennington, representing Floyd County Kentucky United, read a statement prior to the vote, saying that federal and state courts and judges have “perverted our constitutional rights with their biased opinions and feelings.”
He said America has “allowed” rights to be infringed upon.
“We have no one else to blame but ourselves,” he said. “Well, no more. No longer will we compromise and further lose our rights. All these politicians, jumping up and down, talking about supporting the Second Amendment and the Constitution, and they always seem to be in favor of most gun laws ... You cannot, in any way, shape or form support the Second Amendment and be in favor of any gun law. When the government takes away the citizens’ right to bear arms, it becomes the citizens duty to take away the government’s right to govern. And make no mistake, we will do just that.”
He asserted his belief that America is not a democracy.
“With all that said, let’s get down to the brass tax,” Pennington said. “We’re not a democracy. We’re a constitutional republic, governed by our Constitution.”
The statement was met with applause.
He continued, “For the last 120-plus years or so, we’ve allowed courts and lawmakers to make laws and set precedents that are in direct violation of that document. No more will we allow that to happen. Any law that is in direct violation to the constitution is null and void and the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. The left likes to think of themselves as the woke crowd. Consider us woke. We will no longer allow judges and politicians to stay in office and violate the oath they swore to defend, the Constitution by passing laws in violation, refusing to stand up to their colleague in violation of the Constitution. We like to think of ourselves as a free nation. That’s a farce. However, starting now, we’re going to take this country back. We’re going to make it the way it was intended. Where people can live free. I don’t care what your race, your creed, your gender, your religion or anything else is. If your constitutional rights are being violated, I’ll stand next to you and fight.
He said he was 19 years old when he fought in Iraq.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think that by my mid-thirties, I’d be sitting here fighting my own government to keep my constitutional rights,” he said.
He ended his speech by saying, “You will give us liberty, or you will give us death.”
County-Judge Executive Robbie Williams read a letter from state Sen. Johnny Ray Turner and state Rep. Ashley Tackett Laferty, in which they also pledged that they “strongly support” the county’s resolution declaring the county a Second Amendment Sanctuary.
Williams said the resolution is a reaffirmation of the oath he took when he joined the Marines 33 years ago.
He said the resolution “shows that we’re unified in our fight to protect our Second Amendment rights.”
“I hear folks talk about this is symbolic in nature. That’s true to an extent, but to me I think this is a call to action, especially with what’s going on in Virginia. We better get our butts in gear. They’re shoving it down their throat over there.”
He encouraged attendees to get involved.
“Your voice is your vote. That’s what politicians and elected officials listen to, is your vote,” he said. “So please, be active and involved in your community as much as possible and your local government. I just wanted to quickly say, to me, this means so much as a Marine Corps veteran and I really think that if we give an inch, they’ll going to take a mile.”
Wednesday, County Attorney Keith Bartley, who wore a gun to the meeting, said he supports the right of people to keep and bear arms. He said he also wants the public to understand that “no county can pass a law that supersedes state or federal law.”
“So, if somebody goes out and violates a federal law, a federal gun law, and the federal government is prosecuting them, it would not be a defense for them to say, but I’m in Floyd County and it’s a sanctuary county. That’s not a legal defense and they need to understand that,” Bartley said.
He said the resolution was important to show the public that the fiscal court supports the Second Amendment. “We live in a world where it seems like governments, all too often, want to get involved in things that, quite frankly, they shouldn’t be involved in, in my opinion,” Bartley said. “That’s less likely to happen in a very conservative state like Kentucky, especially on a gun issue. But it does seem like in a lot of places, they don’t care to throw the Constitution out the window, you know, and try to make laws that clearly are in violation of what the framers of the Constitution envisioned.”
Bartley said the attempt to “political pressure” at the meeting “absolutely was not necessary.”
He said fiscal court members are “Second Amendment believers” who “understand the importance of the right of the people of this country to be able to keep and bear arms.”
“So, there was really no need to try to apply some type of political pressure or to imply that they are going to vote against those people if they don’t pass the Second Amendment Sanctuary resolution,” Bartley said. “They were wanting to do it long before they got there. If they’d been nobody there last night, they would have passed that.”