NEW COLUMBIA — A resolution in support of Constitutional rights in general and Second Amendment rights in particular was passed this week by White Deer Township supervisors.
The resolution supported the entire Constitution and its amendments including the Second Amendment. It opposed enforcement or enactment of unconstitutional law, orders, rules or regulations not consistent with it. The Pennsylvania Constitution, including Article 1 which sanctions citizens to defend themselves and their state without question, was also endorsed.
Supervisor Carroll Diefenbach, chairman, said the board was advised by its solicitor to consider a resolution rather than an ordinance. Advertising and holding a hearing to adopt an ordinance were considered obstacles as well as the chances of it setting a precedent.
“If we don’t include certain things somebody could come in and ask us to adopt an ordinance for the 14th Amendment,” he said. “We could get to the point where we would have so many different ordinances with so many different amendments.”
A resolution, Diefenbach said, was something which could be changed at any time. He compared an ordinance to something more like a law.
Diefenbach said he may have been in favor of an ordinance prohibiting spending on gun control laws considered unconstitutional, but sensed fellow board members were against it. Solicitor Peter Matson, he observed, was also skeptical that an ordinance would really achieve much more than a resolution.
Diefenbach also consulted with the Union County Sheriff’s Department.
“If something changes through the Senate or Congress, we have to abide by what the laws are,” Diefenbach said. “The (sheriff) said he’s not sure if these will actually do anything.”
Diefenbach attributed some of the sentiment favoring a Second Amendment Sanctuary Ordinance (SASO) to restrictions proposed in Virginia as a Democratic legislature took power last month. He noted that one of the more restrictive measures initiated by that state’s governor was rejected by his own party.
Supervisor Donald Wilver Jr., the Democrat on the otherwise Republican board, supported the resolution rather than the SASO.
“I personally don’t believe in that whole concept,” he said. “I support the Second Amendment, but I support the rest of the Constitution as well.”
He noted the Constitution outlines how laws are created and challenged.
“Just choosing to ignore the law is not a viable option,” Wilver said. “I think that is what we were being asked to do.”
Wilver speculated that the group which presented the SASO was trying to generate local interest to remind state legislators that they did not support laws which may encroach on the right to bear arms. The township resolution was a way to find some common ground.
“We certainly support the Constitution as well,” Wilver added. “We support the Second Amendment. But we support the whole Constitution and the democratic process.”
Meantime, Shawn Waltman, who has been presenting SASO information to Union County municipalities, said he was satisfied with the outcome. He said part of the reason for his effort was to send a message to Harrisburg lawmakers.
To date, three municipalities have passed ordinances while Buffalo Township has passed an ordinance preempting spending on “any unlawful act” regarding firearms.
Waltman said he hoped to bring the idea, and evidence of support, to Union County commissioners at their April meeting.