Last week, the Wasatch County Council decided to create a committee to further explore an ordinance that would make the county into a “Second Amendment sanctuary county.”
Councilor Kendall Crittenden brought the item to the county agenda. Crittenden spoke about recent events in the country, saying he’s concerned there’s a movement to take away First and Second Amendment rights as well as others.
The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects individuals' rights to keep and bear arms.
Crittenden offered other ordinances passed in Uintah, Wayne and other counties in Utah as references for a Wasatch County ordinance.
“Basically, a lot of them say that as a county we will not enforce any direction or any law that violates our Second Amendment right,” Crittenden said.
While resolutions can act as a statement, an ordinance would actually change county code, which which could potentially put the county in opposition with state or federal law. County Attorney Scott Sweat says they’ll prepare whatever the council decides but he prefers a resolution over an ordinance.
"I don't want to put our law enforcement at odds with state versus county or other things,” Sweat said. “Personally, I’m for the Second Amendment and think we want to keep it. I also think that an ordinance can cause issues for us.”
County Sheriff Jared Rigby also supported upholding the Constitution, but also supported a resolution instead of an ordinance to avoid a conflict in laws created for officers. Four citizens provided public comment in favor of the ordinance and resolution.
Ryan Hobbs of the Wasatch County Second Amendment Group addressed the council to support an ordinance.
“Just because we have our Constitution, that’s set in stone right now, doesn't mean there's a lot of people in power that want to change it and abolish it and get rid of it,” Hobbs said. “It’s up to us who are proud to live here, who are proud to be Americans, to say no. We're not going to let that happen. It's no different than everyone's family at their house. We all have our family values at home, we're not going to let somebody else come into our house and change the way that we run our family.”
Three other community members shared their disapproval, including resident Renee Athay.
“I am not an advocate to take away anyone's guns,” she said. “I am an advocate for basing our government, our elected officials, and all those who profess to share the values of American Society that our right to happiness and our right for freedom, also includes not having guns as a dominant force in our community on any level.”
Councilors such as Marilyn Crittenden weighed in expressing their support of the Constitution and the Second Amendment but hesitancy to create an ordinance on such a polarizing issue.
“We’ve heard a lot of comments of the safety of needing to bear arms so that we can be safe,” Marilyn said. “There's also the topic of hearing children who are afraid to go school because they’ve heard of other schools being shot. So, safety is an all-encompassing thing isn’t it? It comes from both sides. If we move forward with a resolution, we do need to be very careful about the wording. We do need to be very careful about what it is we're doing, so that we can provide something for the future that is good and solid. Not just an angry statement. Not just something that is polarizing, but something that is uniting.”
Kendall Crittenden motioned to ask for the county attorney's office to prepare a resolution and an ordinance to make Wasatch a Second Amendment sanctuary county. The motion failed without a second. Council members offered an alternative to create a committee made up of a cross section of the community and elected officials to discuss what a resolution or an ordinance would look like.