Sun. Jan 26th, 2020

Metcalfe County Fiscal Court tables Second Amendment resolution, citizens turn out to voice concerns

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Barry Gilley, Metcalfe County attorney, reads a statute from the Kentucky Revised Statutes Jan. 14, 2020 at a meeting of the Metcalfe Fiscal Court.
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Photos by Brennan Crain.

EDMONTON, Ky. – The Metcalfe County Fiscal Court voted Tuesday to table the adoption of a resolution voicing the County’s support of the Second Amendment.

Several counties across Kentucky have already adopted resolutions declaring themselves “Second Amendment Sanctuaries.” However, Metcalfe County Attorney Barry Gilley said these declarations have the potential to infringe on a Kentucky statute.

“The law is what it is,” Gilley said. “It’s our law, and right now it bites us.”

Kentucky Revised Statute 65.870 became effective July 13, 1984. Gilley said the legislation was written by the National Rifle Association with the intent to protect pro-Second Amendment citizens by prohibiting local governments from creating laws pertaining to firearms.

“We did it to ourselves, don’t get me wrong,” Gilley said. “I was for it then. I still think we’re better off with it than without it because there’s places in this state that will pass gun rights laws if we let the local authorities do that.”

The statute also outlines risks “agents of the Commonwealth,” such as fiscal court members, may face if their attempt to enact a law or regulation that is averse to the statute. These agents are given immunity in most cases, per Section 231 of the Kentucky Constitution. That means citizens elected to local boards and bodies cannot be held personally liable for something they support or do not support. However, KRS 65.870 outlines that immunity is exempt if any individuals attempt to infringe on the statute.

Several people in the crowd spoke against the statue and cited the founders of the United States’ lack of adherence to British laws and orders in the face of the American Revolution. Some were calling for the fiscal court members to take a stand against what the government has in play with the statute.

“Anytime somebody takes a stand, there’s going to be a sacrifice,” a citizen said. “To see the character in this court and find out where they actually stand, I think they should pass a resolution.”

Gilley explained multiple times that the governmental body can neither supersede the statutes and laws prescribed by the State, nor can they adopt a position of authority not given to them by the State. If they do, they would be subject to punishment as prescribed in KRS 522.020 or 522.030.

A citizen in the audience asked how Kentucky lawmakers can pass gun legislation despite the fiscal court’s inability to do so. Gilley said those lawmakers are prescribed a different authority, but the citizen asked how they are permitted to act with that authority without the vote of the people.

“You voted for the people when you voted your representative up there,” Gilley said. “That’s your vote of the people.”

Those in attendance continued remarking that the fiscal court should take a firm stance against any attempt to infringe on their Second Amendment rights. Some became angry when Magistrate Ronnie Miller said he would fight, but he wasn’t willing to risk his freedom.

“I’ll fight for you to the very end. I most certainly will,” Miller said. “But I’m not going to sit here and go to jail over it. I’m not going to do anything illegal.”

Another citizen mocked that the fiscal court’s resolution should note their hesitance to act against the law. Several in the audience expressed their concern in the fiscal court’s hesitance and overall cowardliness, as some were remarking.

“And, not have wording in there that says, ‘we’re going to pass a resolution saying that will support the Second Amendment rights, however we’re going to kind of pull ourselves back because we don’t want to make any sort of personal sacrifice,’” a citizen said. “What kind of character does this court represent?”

Metcalfe County Judge Executive Harold Stilts said the fiscal court is in support of the “2A supporters,” but he made note to express their support within the constraints of the law. Gilley echoed Stilts’ comments after addressing the crowd.

“My dad used to tell me that your friends will disagree with you, and your enemies never will because they don’t care what you do,” Gilley said. “I hate it. It’s a part of the job I dislike. Because if it comes down to it, I’m one of you – that’s what I like.”

The Metcalfe County Fiscal Court is expected to review an updated resolution at its next meeting Jan. 28. Magistrates were in support of allowing citizens to contribute ideas to the resolution.

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