That East Tennessee 2A Sanctuary Movement? It's Spreading West.

As the Eastern edge of Tennessee fills up with green, indications are that their neighbors have taken notice.

Published Sunday, November 17, 2019 5:00 pm
Gun Rights Watch article by Gun Rights Watch - Chief Editor

(for a larger version of this map, click here)

Greene County

In our last discussion of Greene County, we related the events of June 15th, when the County Commissioners passed a (sort of) Second Amendment Sanctuary resolution, keeping all of the original language from the measure but omitting the word sanctuary before they passed it. In the end, though, the final resolution differed very little from the original, except for that one word. We searched for a copy of the final resolution extensively and were unable to find one, but eventually came to the realization that it doesn't matter all that much. Simply read the original resolution below while ignoring the word sanctuary and it serves as a reasonable facsimile.

We're still calling this one a Second Amendment Sanctuary because functionally, it does the same exact thing. 


WHEREAS, the vast majority of the citizens of Greene County, Tennessee and the Greene County Board of commissioners state and accept as true the following:

  1. The Declaration of Independence states that people are "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed".
  2. John Adams wrote in 1A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law (1765): "I say Rights, that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws, Rights derived from the Great Legislature of the universe".
  3. Natural Law Rights, given to each of us by our Creator are the basis of our Constitution by which they are protected and secured to each of us. Natural Law Rights, including that of self-protection; NOT given or granted by, but are guaranteed by our laws, our history, and our traditions.
  4. It is the natural tendency of civil government to expand beyond the limits of its rightful Constitutional authority and to usurp powers which have not been given to it through the delegated consent of the governed.
  5. Whenever the uses of government are perverted, individual sovereignty is overly endangered or threatened and all other means of redress are ineffective, the people may, and in fact ought to, force the re-establishment of the original constitutional limits of government. (-That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, - DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, JULY 4,1776).
  6. Resistance against arbitrary power and oppression is the obligation of every patriot, as not to do so is destructive to the good and happiness of mankind. In fact, it is the duty of the people of Greene County, TN, through the actions of their lesser magistrates, namely local elected officials and Sheriff, to challenge the civil government when and where it exceeds or threatens to exceed its Constitutional bounds.
  7. The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of our Nation.
  8. The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America states: "A well- regulated militia being necessary to the security of a Free State, the Right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed".
  9. The U.S. Supreme Court in Miranda v. Arizona (1966) stated that "Where rights secured by the Constitution are involved, there can be no rule making or legislation which would abrogate them.”
  10. The U.S. Supreme Court in the District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) decision affirmed that "the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is not connected in any way to service in a militia."
  11. The U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Miller (1939) stated that, “firearms that are part of the ordinary military equipment with use that could contribute to the common defense are protected by the Second Amendment."
  12. The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, Section 1 states:
    No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
  13. The U.S. Supreme Court in McDonald v. City of Chicago (2010) decision affirmed that a person's Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms if further secured by the "Due Process" and the "privileges and immunities" clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. The decision also protects rights closely related to the Second Amendment, namely the right to manufacture, transfer, accessories and ammunition.
  14. The Tennessee State Constitution Article 1, Section 26 states that the citizens of this state have a right to keep and to bear arms for their common defense; but the Legislature shall have power, by law, to regulate the wearing of arms with a view to prevent crime.
  15. The Tennessee State Constitution Article 1, Section 24 states, "That the sure and certain defense of a free people, is a well-regulated militia; and, as standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to freedom, they ought to be avoided as far as the circumstances and safety of the community will admit; and that in all cases the military shall be kept in strict subordination to the civil authority".
  16. The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America states;
    "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
  17. The U.S. Supreme Court found in Prinz v. United States (1997) that the Federal Government cannot compel law enforcement officers of the states to enforce federal laws as it would increase the power of the Federal govemment far beyond that which the Constitution intends.
    1. The unalienable right to keep and bear arms, as specified in the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the Constitution of Tennessee, and further upheld by subsequent decisions of the U.S. Supreme court.
    2. The Right, as originally written and understood, to keep and bear arms for self- defense, personal safety, protection of one's family and in defense of one's community and county.
    3. The right to manufacture, transfer, purchase and sell firearms and ammunition designed for those purposes outlined above, rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and the Constitution of Tennessee; and,

WHEREAS, any attempted regulation of the right to keep and bear arms or affiliated firearm rights that violates the Second, Ninth, Tenth or Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, that violates Article 1, Sections 24 and26 of the Tennessee Constitution, or that violates numerous related Supreme Court decisions including those listed above shall be regarded by the people of, on, or in Greene County to be unconstitutional, a transgression of the Supreme Law of the Land and its spirit of individual sovereignty, and, therefore, by necessity unenforceable and invalid from the outset: and,

WHEREAS, the criminal misuse of firearms is due to the fact, that criminals, by definition, do not obey laws, and this is not a reason to abrogate or abridge the unalienable, constitutionally guaranteed rights of law-abiding citizens. The last protectors of the Constitution of the United States are "WE THE PEOPLE of the United States" and our ability to fulfill that role successfully rest on our Second Amendment rights; and,

WHEREAS, the legislators of Greene County, TN, hold our Oath of Office, to Support the Tennessee Constitution, and the United States Constitution sacred and dear, and as such, the Greene County, TN government will not tolerate Unconstitutional acts, laws, orders, mandates, or rules; nor will we authorize or appropriate government funds, resources, employees, agencies, contactors, buildings, detention centers or offices for the purpose of enforcing or assisting in the enforcement of any element of such State or Federal acts, laws, orders, mandates, rules or that infringe on the right by the people to keep and bear arms as described and defined in detail above; and,

WHEREAS, while the Title of this resolution refers directly to the Second Amendment of the US Constitution, the issue is much greater than one amendment. This resolution is about protecting ALL of our unalienable rights from those that would deny our right to DUE PROCESS. However, we believe that our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is the most important of those rights, as it is what gives us, "WE THE PEOPLE", the ability to defend the remainder of our rights, by force if necessary. Thus, the importance of the Second Amendment in the title of this resolution.

WHEREAS, the term "Sanctuary County", should not be implied to make Greene County a safe haven for criminals, but rather a safe haven to protect good law-abiding citizens from the tyranny of overreaching governments, and Unconstitutional Laws that infringe on one's liberty, assets and freedoms, without DUE PROCESS.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, by the Greene County Commission meeting in regular session this l5th day of July,2019, at the Greene County Courthouse in Greene County, Tennessee, that Greene County Tennessee is officially declared a Second Amendment Sanctuary County, that recognizes the unalienable right of the people to possess and bear arms.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Greene County would request that the State of Tennessee through its elected representatives and the governor continue to uphold the second amendment, in refusing to consider any legislation that restricts the unalienable rights of its law-abiding citizens, especially the right to keep and bear arms.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the County Clerk forward a copy of this Resolution to our State Senator, Southerland, our State Representatives, Hawk and Faison, asking for their assistance and support in protecting Greene County, Tennessee and protecting our unalienable rights given to us by our Creator, guaranteed to us as citizens, by the US Constitution, and the Tennessee State Constitution.

This resolution shall become effective on the passage, the public welfare requiring it.

Clifford "Doc" Bryant

Jason Cobble

Josh Arrowood

Teddy Lawins

Josh Kesterson


County Mayor

County Clerk

County Attorney

Roane County

On June 10th, the Roane County Commission passed a resolution declaring itself a Second Amendment Sanctuary Resolution unanimously, with no one present to speak against it. County Commissioners Junior Hendrickson and David Brashears were the only two commissioners to deliver short comments on the resolution, both in favor of its passage.

The full resolution is below.

Carter County

On June 17th, the Carter County Commission met for their monthly meeting, where they voted 22 to 0  to pass a Second Amendment Sanctuary Resolution. It was the second time in recent history that the county had taken a stand for gun rights, having voted most recently in 2013 to pass a similar, but differently worded proposal to condemn gun control efforts coming from the federal government.

While this resolution announced the county's own intention to stand against gun control, that former one instead took the approach of demanding that the state conduct an initiative to pass statewide laws that would do the same thing.

The 2013 effort seems to have had some effect since Tennessee did eventually pass the Second Amendment Protection Act.

A copy of carter County's 2019 Second Amendment Sanctuary Resolution is below.


Town of Dandridge

On October 8th, the Mayor and Aldermen of Dandridge voted to make the municipality a Gun Sanctuary Town. The issue had been brought to the board by Alderman Kesterson at their monthly session. Aldermen were immediately on board but were concerned about the legality of defending the town against new gun control laws by either the state or the federal government.

Town Attorney Jeff Green then voiced his opinion that other small municipalities had done the same and they had not run afoul of any pressure by the government, so there was relatively little to fear. At the end of the meeting, the motion was approved unanimously and received an ovation from some meeting attendees.

The full resolution was not available to us at the time of this writing.

Jefferson and Sevier Counties

On Monday, October 21st, both Jefferson and Sevier Counties passed Second Amendment Sanctuary Resolutions, both by wide margins.

Weekly talk radio show host and constitutional professor Stewart Harris made the following comments to 10News from WETS-FM in Johnson City when he said,

 "[Counties and Towns] will decide they are concerned about gun control laws being imposed by some other jurisdiction. In a state like Tennessee, it's very unlikely that will happen, but we're really not talking about a constitutional issue, we're talking about a political decision from the people of these counties." 

Gun Rights watch will update again when or if copies of these resolutions become available.

Sullivan County

The county had a meeting on Thursday, November 15th in which it debated the possibility of passing their own resolution, proposed by Commissioner Hunter Locke. Locke spoke at the meeting and gave his own reasons for its passage, which came a week later. Commissioner Gary Stidham was also a sponsor.

The resolution was passed on November 21st, voted in unanimously by the board in response to the threat of the proposed red flag law.

Claiborne County


Counties Considering Second Amendment Sanctuary Resolutions:

Bedford County

Brent Smith, a Commissioner of Bedford County has been pushing hard for a Second Amendment Sanctuary Resolution for several months now. His first attempt to get a vote on the floor was tabled in September and now a second attempt was just tabled on November 12th. We've spoken to Brent, and we're pretty sure he'll keep trying. Support Brent's efforts!