Petition started by App State student hopes to make Watauga County Second Amendment sanctuary

Abi Pepin

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Watauga County could become the next Second Amendment sanctuary county, joining 50 other counties in North Carolina, after an App State student started a petition in hopes of preserving gun rights.

“It’s basically saying the county isn’t going to dedicate any resources, funding or personnel to supporting any state or federal gun control that is considered unconstitutional or any further gun control than what is already existing in its place which includes red flag laws, universal background checks, etc.” said Connor Hoy, the petition’s creator.

Cristian Garnier
Junior history major Connor Hoy started a petition to preserve gun rights in Watauga County. In his own words, the petition states that “the county isn’t going to dedicate any resources, funding or personnel to supporting any state or federal gun control,”

Hoy, a junior history major, said he was doubtful about how far the movement would go and how many students would sign it.

With over 200 signatures on the petition within three weeks, Hoy said the next step is to continue to get the word out.

“I need to get as many people aware of it, signing the petition,” Hoy said. “Then, I can take it to the county commissioners and maybe take it to the sheriffs to get their endorsement.”

Hoy said he is worried that if people are unable to defend themselves or their loved ones, then there’s no guarantee of their safety or freedom.

“As a 23-year-old who can’t run for office yet, it was really the only thing I could do besides just talking to people about individual liberty and try to advocate for it, so that’s why I (started the petition),” Hoy said. 

Hoy said he would not be surprised if an attempt to repeal the Second Amendment happens in his lifetime.

Carson Jennings, a senior political science major, said he was not surprised by the petition.

“With a lot of the gun reform you’ve seen come out in other states recently, most notably the state of Virginia, it makes sense that people of the Republican Party would be concerned with their gun rights,” Jennings said.

Watauga County’s neighbors, Ashe and Avery Counties, were declared Second Amendment sanctuaries in late January.

Jennings said because Watauga County has a population of over 55,000 people, the number of signatures the petition currently has is insufficient to make an impact on the political landscape.

“This isn’t particularly concerning,”  Jennings said. “I don’t think it would come to anything. It doesn’t change how happy I am at App. It doesn’t change the way that I feel about my safety on campus or around the community.”

Jennings said the petition’s goal of 500 signatures is not enough to pass this resolution.

“The notion of sanctuary cities surpasses just the issue of gun control,” said William Hicks, a political science professor. “The basic notion of it is that we will create an informal rule within a small jurisdiction that we will not observe or respect a law written by the federal or state government.”

Hicks said he is concerned that if there is enough support to pass sanctuary-style laws, laws won’t be enforced like they are supposed to.

Hicks said the counties that have already passed similar notions may have bigger consequences than they realize. 

“At the end of the day, I think most of this is about the relationship between public opinion and policy,” Hicks said. “This goes back to a really old concept in political science: if your views, your values, your preferences are not consistent with the public, change the public.”