An overflow crowd at the historic Kenton County courthouse in Independence watched as the fiscal court adopted a resolution on Thursday evening declaring the county as a Second Amendment sanctuary.
Upon adoption, applause swelled from the gathered mass of people that stretched into the hallway and up the staircase.
The resolution received unanimous approval from the court with aye votes from Judge/Executive Kris Knochelmann and Commissioners Joe Nienaber and Beth Sewell. Commissioner Jon Draud was not present.
Members of the public and other local office-holders spoke approvingly of the measure before the vote.
Sheriff Chuck Korzenborn endorsed the resolution and noted that he brought the issue to their attention.
"I just want to thank the judge and the fiscal court for the support they gave me when I brought this up," said Korzenborn. "There was no opposition."
The vote establishes that Kenton County will "preserve for the citizens of Kenton County their rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States of America; and Be It Further Resolved, the Kenton County Fiscal Court hereby expresses its intent to uphold the Second Amendment rights of the citizens of Kenton County, Kentucky; and Be It Further Resolved, the Kenton County Fiscal Court hereby declares its intent to oppose any infringement on the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms; and Be It Further Resolved, the Kenton County Fiscal Court through this Resolution hereby declares our rights, our freedom, and our liberty as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States of America."
The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution establishes the right to bear arms.
Republican State Representative Savannah Maddox, of Dry Ridge, whose district includes Grant County and part of southern Kenton and northern Scott counties, also endorsed the vote.
"We are proud of you all for your willingness to bring this tonight in an effort to affirm the Second Amendment rights of Kenton Countians," she said. "It's so imperative at this juncture that we're at, with the recent onslaught of Second Amendment legislation, not just in Kentucky but around the nation."
She listed some of the guns that could be banned. "As far as I'm concerned none of those bills or bill requests will move at this point, but still it is so important to unite at the local level and rally around this issue. And I applaud all of you for being vigilant about this, because it will unite to send a message to your state or local government that the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed upon."
Walt Starosciak, of Crestview Hills, and a member of the National Rifle Association, offered his support.
"I want to thank everybody here," he said. "In 2019, Kentucky and Virginia have been the test cases for what we're going to see in 2020. It is so important that now more than anything that all strong men and women get together and support our constitutional right to the Second Amendment. We have God-given rights and we have Second Amendment rights in order to keep our arms, and we will do whatever is necessary to keep those rights."
Although most spoke in support of the resolution, there was some opposition among the public speakers.
June Deneen said that her concern was that this resolution was a solution looking for a problem while another resident offered a comment against it, too.
"I am a gun owner. I am a veteran of the United States Navy. I have my armed forces expeditionary medal for serving overseas, and I am against this resolution," he said. "The main reason why, is that I feel that we should have common sense legislation for gun regulation."
He went on to say that the deadly shootings that have happened across the country could come here, and that he feared that if it happened in a Kroger or a church here, if guns aren't regulated it would be another disaster.
"Please do not pass this resolution," he urged.
The River City News did not get the resident's name in time for publication, but will update this story if possible.
Judge Knochelmann noted that Boone County Judge/Executive Gary Moore helped draft the resolution. Boone County is to consider its own resolution on Second Amendment sanctuary status next week.
Commissioner Sewell thanked residents for their input while Commissioner Nienaber said that he was proud to support the resolution.
Congressman Thomas Massie, the Republican from Lewis County who represents Northern Kentucky in the U.S. House, has also been a vocal supporter of sanctuary status on social media.
John Stephenson, a county resident, offered his support to the fiscal court on the measure.
"I don't have a vested interest in guns," he said. "But I do have a vested interest in our Constitution. And I think it is probably one of the most important things we all remember, the freedoms that we fail to use, we tend to lose, and the freedoms we abuse, we tend to lose. Tonight we are here for one reason, to protect those freedoms of the Second Amendment which gave us the right to bear arms and protect our families. This resolution sends a message to all the elected officials across the nation that we stand up for the second amendment because it is part of the constitution."