BEAUFORT — Monday, Carteret County became the latest local government to double down on 2nd Amendment rights, approving an ordinance in support of gun ownership.
County commissioners unanimously passed the ordinance as part of the consent agenda at their Monday evening regular session at the administrative building on Court House Square. Items within the consent agenda are typically housekeeping items that do not require discussion. Individual commissioners reserve the right to remove an item from the consent agenda to be discussed.
The ordinance’s primary purpose is to declare support for the 2nd Amendment.
“The Carteret County board of commissioners recognizes that the Constitution of the United States of America is the supreme law of our nation,” reads an excerpt from the ordinance. “The Carteret County board of commissioners supports the United States Bill of Rights, which enforces guarantees of individual’ rights and limitations of federal and state governments.”
Commissioner Mark Mansfield said this part of the ordinance is particularly important.
“The Bill of Rights (was) put in…to keep governments from violating the will of the people,” Mr. Mansfield said, later adding that while all aspects of the Bill of Rights are important, the 2nd Amendment in particular has been under scrutiny.
“It’s been a statewide outcry from the public. We’ve received numerous emails from the public to support a resolution,” he continued.
Mr. Mansfield said public input was one of the motivating factors behind the county adopting the ordinance. He added that some legislative activity from Virginia was another key factor.
“We worked together to craft a resolution that we all could support,” Mr. Mansfield said. “I think a lot of it started from concerns from what was going on in Virginia with some gun control issues.”
Mr. Mansfield referred to Virginia’s now-defeated legislative effort to limit the sale of certain assault-style weapons. He said some county residents were concerned North Carolina’s Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, might pursue similar legislation.
“If you remember the oath that we took when we took office, we swore to uphold the constitution of the United States,” Commissioner Ed Wheatly said. “That includes the constitution of North Carolina. There was an outcry from the public that we pass a resolution and say that we do support the 2nd Amendment, which we do.”
Mr. Wheatly said he believed Monday’s resolution accomplished their goal.
“I was fine with the resolution,” Mr. Wheatly said. “I think the resolution that we passed was a well-written resolution and I was happy to do so. I had no problem with it at all.”
Mr. Mansfield said he and other commissioners understand the issue is very much a balancing act.
“We also believe in safety,” Mr. Mansfield said. “You shouldn’t have things where you can have school shooting and mass murderers and other stuff too. But a gun is just an instrument. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. And a lot of times when you have these unfortunate things go on, we tend to focus on the instrument and not the cause.”