Cherokee County Commissioners last week unanimously approved making Cherokee a Second Amendment sanctuary county – a largely symbolic stand with little teeth.
“It is symbolic,” Precinct 4 Commissioner Billy McCutcheon told the Herald-Press Monday. “We're not going to break any laws, but our sheriff's office doesn't have to help the federal government, if they come here to confiscate our residents' guns, either.”
Cherokee is the latest of 19 Texas counties to have declared itself a Second Amendment sanctuary. Anderson County is not one of them.
The Cherokee resolution, drafted by Precinct 2 Commissioner Steven Norton and approved by County Attorney Dana Young, states no county law enforcement officer will aid federal authorities in removing firearms from law-abiding county residents.
Furthermore, the resolution states, the sheriff's office will not provide any manpower, intelligence, equipment, or facilities to federal authorities confiscating guns, instituting mandatory buy-back programs, or interfering with the constitutional rights to keep and bear arms.
“Of course, if there is a crime involved, or if a felon unlawfully has a gun, we will act accordingly,” McCutcheon, 52, said. “The sheriff will most likely take care of that first, before the federal government ever gets involved.”
Anderson County resident and combat Marine veteran Rod Skelton told the Herald-Press Anderson County commissioners should follow Cherokee County's lead.
“Candidate for sheriff Rudy Flores expounded on this in a recent speech,” Skelton said. “The sheriff needs to be in control of the county. The nation is in such a bad way right now – it could come down to us having to defend ourselves.”
Flores told the Herald-Press he is a firm supporter of the Second Amendment, but if elected sheriff, he will abide by the decision of county commissioners.
“If the commissioners were to adopt that policy, I would whole-heartedly be behind it,” Flores said. “The members of the Sheriff's Association of Texas are behind it, as well.”
Flores' opponent in the sheriff's race, Jeff Taylor, declined to comment until he could speak with county commissioners on the issue.
Anderson County Judge Robert Johnston was unavailable for comment.
To the north, neighboring Smith County declared themselves a sanctuary county in October.
“We got tired of listening to politicians like Beto O'Rourke,” Precinct 3 Commissioner Terry Phillips told the Herald-Press. “If the feds come in to unconstitutionally confiscate residents' guns, we will not use county funds, buildings, personnel, or resources to help them.”
Former Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke triggered controversy earlier this year when he vowed, as president, to confiscate assault rifles.
Phillips said passing the resolution was harder in Smith County than in Cherokee.
“We have one Democrat on the court,” Phillips said. “She voted against the resolution.”
Sharon Davis, head of the Anderson County Democratic Party, said she didn't think Anderson County needed a local sanctuary ordinance. The federal government would not, under a Democratic administration, move to confiscate guns, she said.
“If the federal government did approve such a measure, it would supersede state or local laws,” she said. “But that's not likely to happen. Most people in the Democratic Party think Beto spoke out-of-turn and over-stepped.”
Some manufacturers are voluntarily stopping production of military-style weapon for civilians, Davis said, and some retailers are voluntarily ceasing to sell them.
“People have mixed emotions,'' she said. “They respect and uphold Second Amendment rights, but they're also concerned about the carnage that has taken place in our country.”
Proponents across the state of the sanctuary resolution say they are reaffirming their support for the Constitution and the Second Amendment, as well as protecting residents.
“Our first priority is, and will always be, keeping our residents safe,” McCutcheon said.