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Indian River County becomes 'Second Amendment sanctuary' in effort to protect gun rights

County joins 44 other Florida counties with designation
Posted at 7:28 PM, Jul 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-13 19:44:56-04

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY, Fla. — Indian River County has become the first place in our viewing area to declare itself a "Second Amendment sanctuary" county.

County commissioners on Tuesday passed a resolution that they say reaffirms they will not enforce any laws that they feel could threaten gun rights.

"This is a very powerful tool," said Commissioner Joe Flescher.

Indian River County joins 44 other Florida counties that have taken similar action.

Indian River County commissioners pass resolution declaring county is a 'Second Amendment sanctuary' county
Indian River County commissioners passed a resolution on July 13, 2021, declaring the county is a 'Second Amendment sanctuary' county.

"In addition to the resolution, each of us is personally sworn to uphold the constitution," said commissioner Susan Adams.

The resolution doesn't have teeth like a law, but supporters still hope it sends a strong message to Tallahassee and Washington, D.C., about where their community stands when it comes to gun rights.

"There's no teeth to it other than the political statement, the philosophical statement, the leadership statement," said supporter Paul Westcott.

Westcott is a local attorney and gun owner. In Florida, he says he doesn't often worry about his gun rights.

Paul Westcott, suports Indian River County becoming a 'Second Amendment sanctuary'
Paul Westcott says he supports Indian River County passing the resolution.

"[But] when I turn on the news and look at the national news I certainly do," Westcott said.

Nationally, advocates for the Second Amendment sanctuaries say the resolutions are becoming more popular because of perceived threats that the federal government might change gun laws.

"We see that reflected in the economy. Gun sales are off the chart. You go to try to buy ammunition you can't," Westcott said.

"Our right to keep and bear arms is constantly under assault," said Lee Williams, a board member with Florida Carry Inc.

Williams said the organization teaches communities and lawmakers about the right to keep and bear arms.

He said more than 50% of the country's counties have adopted similar sanctuary designations, calling it a grassroots movement.

Lee Williams, board member with Florida Carry Inc.
Lee Williams applauds the actions of counties voting for the designation.

"It’s pretty simple. They declare that the municipality or the state is not going to recognize or enforce any federal laws that infringe upon the Second Amendment," Williams said.

But there are groups that oppose the resolutions.

Anti-gun violence group Brady is among those who have issued statements.

The organization posted on its website, Bradyunited.Org, saying "ultimately, Second Amendment sanctuary resolutions are purely symbolic and have no legal weight. ... But the truth is that the Second Amendment is not under threat -- and coordinated efforts to purposefully mislead the public or refuse to enforce public safety laws are dangerous."

Indian River County Sheriff Eric Flowers said he also supports the "Second Amendment sanctuary" resolution.