County Mulls Second Amendment Sanctuary Designation

County Mulls Second Amendment Sanctuary Designation
Pictured, from left, in a file photo are Worcester County Commissioners Josh Nordstrom, Chip Bertino, Jim Bunting, Diana Purnell, Joe Mitrecic, Ted Elder and Bud Church. File photo by Charlene Sharpe

SNOW HILL – Worcester County’s elected officials declared their support for the U.S. Constitution this week following a discussion of the Second Amendment.

The Worcester County Commissioners voted 6-1 Tuesday to proclaim Worcester County a sanctuary for the Constitution and the entire Bill of Rights. Though Commissioner Bud Church launched the discussion because he supported a Second Amendment Sanctuary proclamation, his peers said they wanted to show support for the entire Constitution.

“There is no one amendment or part of the constitution that is any more important than the other,” Commissioner Chip Bertino said. “They’re all important. They’re fabric of who we are as a people.”

Sheriff Matt Crisafulli initially asked the commissioners to allow him to present a Second Amendment Sanctuary proclamation at Tuesday’s meeting. Though Crisafulli wasn’t present and pulled the request, Church said he wanted the item put back on the agenda.

“Worcester County is a very rural county,” he said. “I think the Second Amendment is very important to our county, the citizens of our county. My personal feeling is it’s something we should discuss.”

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Commissioner Jim Bunting said based on the recent measures vetoed by Gov. Larry Hogan and subsequently overridden, he thought the county needed to show its support for the Constitution.

“I realize it’s mostly symbolic but … I was looking for something simply to basically say that Worcester County supports our Constitution and the amendments to the Constitution,” he said. “I was hoping that we could have a vote and it could be put out to the public that we support our Constitution and the amendments, especially the Second Amendment.”

Commissioner Josh Nordstrom was quick to voice objection to highlighting the Second Amendment with a proclamation.

“This is a very slippery slope,” he said. “It’s been stated that this may not be much or it’s symbolic, but this could have repercussions locally, regionally.  These things go into national databases. This could have major effects on tourism, on economic development, on our ability to get grants from the state.”

He said there were 27 amendments to the Constitution.

“Each and every one us swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, he said. “We have already done what you’re asking us to do today.”

Reading from other amendments, he asked for each of those to be included in any proclamation the county put forth. Though Church disagreed, Bunting said he would support a proclamation that addressed the Constitution as a whole.

Commissioner Ted Elder said he wanted the county to voice support for the Second Amendment.

“The Second Amendment is the primary one that’s under attack right now,” he said.  I think if we don’t hold the line here, what else are we going to give up? Are we just going to give it up for money? Did those people in 1776, did they give it up for money? No. Their sacred honor, their wealth, all of it was given up so we could be here debating this stuff. I for one am proud to stand up and say I stand up for the Second Amendment.”

Bertino said personal liberties were under assault and that he didn’t want others speaking on his behalf.

“Quite truthfully I think all of us in the silent majority are a little bit weary that those who have the bully pulpit or those that have the media attention can drive their agendas, claiming that they know what’s best for the rest of us or all of us,” he said. “I’m tired of that.”

He criticized the way individuals were being pushed aside by both political parties.

“The fact that us as a county government are sitting here having this discussion I think brings to the forefront how important it is that we do, even if it is symbolic, register our allegiance to those things that for more than 250 years we as a people have held dear,” Bertino said.

He likened the Constitution to a tapestry and advocated for supporting all of its threads, not just one.

“Those threads are very strong — and they should be strong — to keep everything that we hold dear in the body of the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, as important as anything else,” he said. “If we elevate one over the other, then the others become weak.”

Commissioner Diana Purnell agreed.

“You take a whole and pull out the straws, next thing you know it collapses,” she said.

Church reluctantly agreed to amend his initial motion for a proclamation in support of the Second Amendment to instead be a proclamation in support of the entire Constitution. The commissioners voted 6-1, with Elder opposed, to approve the proclamation. Crisafulli, when contacted after the meeting, indicated he still planned to bring up the Second Amendment in the future.

“I stand in solidarity with the law-abiding citizens of Worcester County, in support of our Second Amendment rights and all of our constitutional rights,” he said in a statement. “After consideration for our county commissioners, I made the decision to retract my proclamation at this time as they navigate through this arduous budget process. I will issue a proclamation in solidarity of our second amendment rights, in the near future. As your sheriff I have taken the oath to defend and uphold this inalienable right that is afforded to all of our law abiding residents.”

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.