It may have no more value than the paper it’s printed on, but Citrus County commissioners on Tuesday joined a growing trend of communities making it known they support the right to bear arms.
Commissioners voted unanimously to adopt a resolution naming Citrus a Second Amendment Sanctuary, which preserves “for the people of, on and in Citrus County, their rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States of America.”
The resolution “...declares our rights, our freedom and our liberty…”
All five commissioners said they own firearms and are resistant to suggestions among some in Washington, D.C., to further restrict gun laws.
“They start getting one gun, they’re going to get the next gun,” Commissioner Scott Carnahan said.
The phrase "Second Amendment sanctuary" is an umbrella term used to describe a jurisdiction that passes a resolution declaring that restrictive gun control laws another legislative body passes are unconstitutional and will not be enforced there.
Lake County was the first in Florida to pass the resolution. Wakulla, Suwanee and Marion counties followed suit.
Residents who attended Tuesday’s board meeting encouraged commissioners to reject the amendment, which Carnahan proposed, citing firearm statistics that show Citrus has a higher per capita rate of gun-related deaths than Florida and the U.S.
“Another huge black eye for Citrus County,” Rich Nilles, of Inverness, said. “If you want to break federal gun laws, come to Citrus County. It’s OK with us.”
Commissioners didn’t see it that way at all. The resolution doesn’t give anyone the right to ignore laws, but instead says the county opposes restrictions that violate the Constitution.
“All we’re saying is we believe the Second Amendment is the right of all citizens,” Commissioner Ron Kitchen Jr. said.
Kitchen said he’s had a concealed carry permit for many years. “I don’t think I’ve killed anyone yet,” he said. “It’s purely for self defense.”
Commissioner Jimmie T. Smith said the resolution sends a message.
“It’s not saying we won’t obey rules,” he said. “Some people are reading into this things that are not fact.”
Board Chairman Brian Coleman said while the resolution is the board's formal statement of support for the Second Amendment, it holds no legal authority.