DUNCAN — Stephens County is officially a “2nd Amendment Sanctuary County” after the board of county commissioners approved a resolution put forth last week by the sheriff.

The Stephens County Board of Commissioners approved the resolution by a vote of 3-0. The passage makes Stephens County one of 19 out of the state’s 77 counties to declare themselves “Sanctuary Counties,” as of Wednesday.

Sheriff Wayne McKinney issued a declaration for the resolution on Feb. 13. The resolution declares the sheriff’s office’s “intent to oppose any and all infringement on the rights and liberties of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms” through any legal means to include court action.

Board chairman District 3 Commissioner Russell Morgan was contacted for comment but did not get back to The Constitution.

McKinney said the measure is a preemptive action to the passage of any unconstitutional measures by politicians that may be on the horizon.

The measure took effect with the vote of the commissioners. McKinney said that District Attorney Jason Hicks offered a letter of support for the measure. The sheriff wanted to clarify the measure’s intent.

“We’re talking about the Constitution of the United States and the 2nd Amendment,” McKinney said. “States can make their own gun laws but they can’t make a law that contradicts the Constitution.

“The 2nd Amendment clearly outlines citizens can have firearms in their homes for self-defense,” he said. “Law-abiding citizens can do that. I have absolutely no issues with that. What I have issue with is criminals with guns.”

McKinney noted that there are constitutional laws about gun ownership. But it’s about the totality of the United States and State’s constitutions.

The sheriff said that since offering the declaration last week, he’s received several inquiries from the public. He said there are laws and rights we have as citizens that are inalienable. There are others that mean compromise.

There have been people who ask if the State’s open and concealed carry laws are inhibited by no weapons policies at some businesses and even the courthouse. The declaration doesn’t cover that, McKinney said.

“Being a part of the citizenry and having the rights afforded that often means, simply, that you have free choice.

“Business that don’t allow you to carry your guns, you have the right not to patronize them,” he said. “We have many amendments to live by.”

With national discussion regarding gun control measures that are tied up in Congress, and the emergence of Democratic primary candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-identified Democratic Socialist, McKinney said there was reason for the preemptive measure.

“For some reason some of these far radical people want to target the 2nd Amendment and I question why you’re doing that right now,” he said. “We’re putting our lawmakers on the spot to do your job but don’t do anything that ruins our Constitution and our State Constitution.”

At 10:30 a.m. today, there will be a hearing by the House Public Safety Committee regarding Oklahoma House Bill 3357, which would repeal permitless carry, to be heard in the House Public Safety Committee. The hearing will be in Oklahoma State Capitol Room 412-C, in Oklahoma City.

“This is an opportunity for members of this committee to stand up to groups like Oklahoma 2A and lead on this issue,” said State Rep. Jason Lowe (D-OKC) who offered the bill. “We will not stop until the people of this state have a say on whether individuals can carry firearms in public without training.”

McKinney cited the resistance to lawmakers in Virginia who have attempted to pass gun-control measures. In January, the majority of Virginia counties declared themselves “Second Amendment Sanctuaries” that won’t enforce laws they claim are unconstitutional. House Bill 3357 would have to be put up for a vote by the people of the state and only is passed through those proper channels would it be constitutionally sound, he said.

“The sheriffs and people in Virginia stood up like we’re doing here,” McKinney said.

The sheriff said that bills regarding high-capacity magazines and types of ammunition are the tips of a spear that is probing restrictions of gun-owner’s rights. He said it creates a slippery slope.

“People need to get back to doing what’s best for our country and get off their agendas,” McKinney said.

On Monday, Virginia lawmakers defeated a ban of the sale of assault weapons. That was one of several measures under discussion by the state’s government, to include:

•Universal background checks for all sales, including private transactions;

•Limiting handgun purchases to one purchase per 30-day period; a law repealed in Virginia in 2012;

•A “red flag” law allowing courts and law enforcement to temporarily seize a person’s guns if determined to be a danger to himself or others;

•Allowing local governments to ban guns in public spaces during permitted events;

•Requiring lost and stolen guns to be reported to law enforcement;

•A prohibition on people under protective orders from owning guns;

•Stiffer penalties allowing children access to loaded, unsecured guns.

Most of these proposals mirror gun control positions passed by the U.S. House of Representatives that have not been taken up by the U.S. Senate.

The issue has been one that’s received a lot of attention. Since McKinney posted the declaration to present the resolution on Feb. 13 to his office’s Facebook page, he said that it received about 800 likes and over 2,000 shares. The attention was overwhelmingly positive, he said.

“It’s 99.8 percent positive feedback,” McKinney said. “I wouldn’t have thought it would have done what it did. That shows people are interested in it.

“I think a lot of people in our country, especially in Oklahoma, are concerned about what they’re seeing in a lot of states,” he said.

McKinney said the trend of “2nd Amendment Sanctuary Counties” is growing throughout, not just Oklahoma, but the nation. Following the lead of Logan County, the first state county to pass the declaration, there have been 18 to follow, including Stephens County. He said he wouldn’t be surprised if most of the larger Oklahoma counties follow suit.

“We’re not the Lone Ranger here,” he said.

Written by Scott Rains: scott.rains@swoknews.com.

Written by Scott Rains: scott.rains@swoknews.com.

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