Dunagin: Sanctuaries not sacrosanct


A federal appeals court ruling in New York last week doesn’t bode well for Second Amendment sanctuaries if they are ever put to a reality  test.

In an ironic twist, the decision was a victory for the Trump administration which is supported by many of those  opposing any limits on gun rights.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan overturned a lower court decision and ruled that the administration can withhold millions of dollars in law enforcement grants to force states to cooperate with U.S. immigration enforcement.

New York City and seven states  —  New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Washington, Massachusetts, Virginia and Rhode Island — sued the U.S. government after the Justice Department announced in 2017 that it would withhold grant money from cities and states until they gave federal immigration authorities access to jails and provide advance notice when someone in the country illegally is about to be released.

The plaintiffs won a lower court decision but lost on appeal.

The issue isn’t settled as the Associated Press reports that in the past two years, federal appeals courts in Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco have ruled against the federal government by upholding lower-court injunctions placed on the enforcement of similar conditions.

“While mindful of the respect owed to our sister circuits, we cannot agree that the federal government must be enjoined from imposing the challenged conditions on the federal grants here at issue,” the 2nd Circuit three-judge panel said,

Likely there will be further appeals and court rulings.

What all this has to do with recently passed Second Amendment sanctuary resolutions by local governments across the country may not amount to anything.

But it is interesting to note that the resolutions which have passed governing boards in several states and some Mississippi counties, including Pike, are similar to immigration sanctuary city resolutions in reaction to President Trump’s tough stand against illegal immigration.

Some of the same folks who have railed against  sanctuary jurisdictions that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration policies they deem heartless and ineffective seem to  have taken a page from the same playbook, employing sanctuary imagery in opposition to gun safety legislation they deem to be unconstitutional.

How far a county in Mississippi might go in resisting some type of state or federal law requiring more background checks for gun purchases or red flag laws allowing confiscation of weapons from people judged to mentally deranged is debatable.

It’s also unknown whether any of these jurisdictions will even have to decide how far to go.

The Mississippi Legislature is unlikely to pass any laws gun rights advocates would find objectionable.

But it could happen at the federal level. Maybe not under the current administration, but who knows what the future holds?

The bottom line, though, is that federal law, whatever it is, will trump county resolutions or even state law. It always has in the long run.

Sanctuaries, as old as the Bible, don’t always turn out to be sacrosanct or inviolable.

In the Old Testament book of First Kings, Joab, King David’s nephew and general, got on the wrong side of a power struggle after David’s death. In an effort to avoid a death sentence ordered by David’s son and successor Solomon, Joab “fled to the tent of the Lord and took hold of the horns of the altar” in an effort to find a sanctuary.

That right of asylum was only extended to those who accidentally killed someone, and Joab, who had murdered rivals, was struck down by Benaiah on orders from Solomon.

They didn’t have guns in those days, but they still had a lot of killing.


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