Unicoi Co. Commission backs state’s votes on guns/johnsoncitypress.com/August 31, 2009


Reported by Jim Wozniak, Erwin Bureau Chief, jwozniak@johnsoncitypress.com

ERWIN – The Unicoi County Commission normally takes a dim view of the actions of state government, but last week the panel quickly voted to support a resolution that backed the Tennessee Legislature’s votes on guns.

“The Tennessee Legislature is commended for their recent passage of several laws lessening the restrictions on people keeping and bearing arms,” the county’s resolution states. “This legislative body (in Unicoi County) supports the rights of its citizens to keep and bear arms in conformity with the rights provided in the United States Constitution.”

The resolution was quickly adopted last Monday in a unanimous vote.

The resolution was the brainchild of Sheriff Kent Harris, who had been approached by Dr. Dan Moore about the idea of supporting the Second Amendment. He liked what Moore had in mind.

“Me and him had spoken about what was going on on the state level and different things about the Second Amendment, the Constitution, about the right to bear arms,” Harris said. “He wanted my opinion of it. I told him what my opinion is – that people have a right to carry a firearm. I believe in people’s right to bear arms.

“My officers have never bothered anybody that’s going armed unless they’re out here breaking the law. Law-abiding citizens, we’re glad they got a gun. We might need them to help us. Whether somebody’s got a gun permit or not, if we stop them and they tell us they got a gun and they’re good, why bother them?”

Harris said he has not had a major problem with anyone who has a handgun permit. He said he supports the handgun permit program even though he believes a person has a right to carry a gun without one.

Moore drafted a resolution that was presented to County Mayor Greg Lynch, who favored it, and County Attorney Doug Shults, who reworded it to comply with all of the laws, Harris said. Moore considered the resolution that was presented to the commission to be watered down, but he said the development nonetheless was positive.

“I’m very proud of our sheriff and the county,” Moore said.

He said he went to Harris because of the importance of the sheriff to protect the community against foreign or domestic invasion and the possibility U.S. residents would have their guns taken away. He said other sheriffs were not as supportive as Harris about the resolution.

“We just wanted to send a message to the world that our county strongly supports the Second Amendment,” Moore said. “(Harris is) setting an example for the other sheriffs to truly uphold the Constitution, which is the supreme law of the of the land, other than God’s law.”

Why is a county government delving into this issue? Harris said it was a sign of support for the state Legislature and to convey the belief that Unicoi County backs gun ownership.

Moore said he and others are planning a rally “for freedom” during the Apple Festival. Details have not been finalized, but Harris said topics include the Second Amendment, taxes and government waste. The sheriff said Moore has asked him to speak, and he has agreed.

“It’s all about the Constitution,” Moore said.

He and Harris said there is a constitutional movement occurring in Unicoi County. Moore said it applies to other parts of the country as well.

“People are tired of seeing their freedoms taken away,” he said

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