LEXINGTON — While the possibility of new gun control laws dominates national conversation, town councilors in a rural Morrow County community are rejoicing over the town’s recent passage of a Second Amendment sanctuary ordinance.
During newly appointed Mayor Juli Kennedy’s first official meeting on Jan. 14, the Lexington town council unanimously passed an ordinance that preserves Second Amendment rights in the community.
The Heppner Gazette-Times reported that after reading the ordinance, Kennedy said “the state of Oregon is coming after your guns.”
“I think this being brought forward was not a light thing to be done, and it wasn’t a knee-jerk response. Legislation was possibly headed down the pipe,” Kennedy told the East Oregonian.
Kennedy said she wasn’t sure of any state legislation in the works that would threaten the right to keep and bear arms.
Kennedy was appointed in December after Marcia Kemp resigned from the position, claiming city councilors “illegally stopped” her from fulfilling her mayoral duties and made decisions outside of public meetings.
Town Councilor Bill Beard said the ordinance was inspired in part by armed protesters in Virginia who eventually flooded the Virginia Capitol by the thousands to oppose recent pledges from the newly Democratic super-majority to pass more gun control laws — from universal background checks to a semiautomatic weapons ban.
Beard didn’t specify if disagreement over any particular state or federal legislation fueled Lexington Town Council’s decision to pass the ordinance.
“We don’t agree with the agenda to disarm the American public,” he said. “It’s actually pretty simple. There is an attempt to take away Second Amendment rights, and we’re just protecting them.”
Beard referred to the ordinance as “preliminary” against future state and federal laws that might bear gun restrictions in multiple categories — additional taxes and fees, registration and tracking, confiscation, prohibition or regulation of non-fully automatic firearms and prohibition of ammunition or accessories.
The ordinance refers to those potential future laws as “unlawful acts” that will be considered invalid in the town of Lexington starting in the middle of February.
The three-page document also states that no agent, department, employee or official within Lexington shall “knowingly and willingly” participate in the enforcement of such an unlawful act or utilize any funds to aid investigation or enforcement of an unlawful act.
In Salem, conversations are bubbling about legislation that, if passed by lawmakers or by voters, would set requirements on gun storage, and on reporting a firearm missing within a certain time frame.
It’s that kind of talk that Beard says the people of Lexington don’t want to entertain.
“I firmly believe in the safe handling of firearms,” he said. “When you criminalize these things, you’re criminalizing a lot of gun owners who are law-abiding citizens.”