Refugio County put its muscle toward backing responsible, constitutional gun ownership this past week.

At a meeting of the county’s commissioners court on Feb. 9, the court passed a resolution declaring Refugio County a “Second Amendment Sanctuary County,” which means that local law and other officials “(will) not enforce any unconstitutional firearm restrictions against any citizen.” The resolution also declares that the county will not authorize or use funds for the purpose of enforcing law that infringes on Second Amendment rights.

“I think we all know how important our second amendment is here,” said Refugio County Sheriff Raul “Pinky” Gonzales. “Recently, it seems like we’ve been under attack by state and federal officials infringing upon our right to bear arms.”

The sheriff and several citizen comments pointed to both state and federal law that if enacted, could lead to stricter gun statutes throughout the country. The court’s declaration of the resolution gets one step ahead of any potential future restrictions.

“We took an oath that we would abide or uphold the Constitution, including the Second Amendment ... it sends a message to our state and federal officials that we stand behind our Second Amendment,” Gonzales said. “Not only that, but to our citizens.”

One example used in public comment was the introduction of House Resolution 127 in the United States Congress, also known as the Sabika Sheikh Firearm Licensing and Registration Act. If passed, a national firearm licensing and registration system will be established by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). In the system, firearm owners would be required to transmit to the Bureau “the make, model, and serial number of the firearm, the date the firearm was acquired by the owner, and where the firearm is or will be stored; and ... a notice specifying the identity of any person to whom, and any period of time during which, the firearm will be loaned to the person.”

Requirements under HR 127 would also lengthen the process for individual licenses to possess a firearm and ammunition. The bill states that after applying for a license and criminal background check, a potential gun owner would have to undergo a psychological evaluation, with further language stating evaluations may also extend to the applicants’ other household residents.

Declaring Refugio County as a sanctuary from what many feel are unconstitutional restrictions puts a stamp on the county’s feeling toward further political action.

“For me, personally, the rhetoric we’ve heard in the last year is very concerning ... (for) local control, all we have at the end of the day is the resolution process, that kind of sets how our community feels about a particular topic, either against or supports a topic,” said Refugio County Judge Robert Blaschke.

Blaschke showed his appreciation for Sheriff Gonzales bringing the topic to the table, and strongly supported the opportunity to back the resolution.

“I think all Texans are all very passionate about their right to bear arms in a responsible manner,” he said.

The Second Amendment Sanctuary movement has gained major traction in Texas, with Refugio becoming the 79th county in the state to declare a pro-Second Amendment resolution. The movement also has support in Austin, namely from Gov. Greg Abbott, who wishes for a similar resolution statewide.

“I want to make sure that Texas becomes a Second Amendment sanctuary state so that no government official at any level can come and take your gun away from you, despite those people who said, ‘Heck yes, we’re going to take your gun,’” Abbott said during the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s 2021 Policy Orientation.

Despite strong backing for the Second Amendment in Texas, Gonzales wanted the resolution declared as soon as possible.

“Even though we have a governor that supports our Second Amendment ... here in two years we’ll have someone running against our governor ... I think if we don’t make a move now, we won’t make that statement,” Gonzales said.

•tleffler@mysoutex.com•

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