Patrick Williams, speaking on behalf of the Second Amendment sanctuary supporters, addresses the Perry County Board of Commissioners on Thursday, Feb. 27. Staff photo by Dariush Shafa
Patrick Williams, speaking on behalf of the Second Amendment sanctuary supporters, addresses the Perry County Board of Commissioners on Thursday, Feb. 27. Staff photo by Dariush Shafa

PERRY COUNTY – A large crowd of Second Amendment supporters broke into applause and cheers Thursday night, voicing their approval after the Perry County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution vowing to support constitutional rights, including the Second Amendment.

Those who spoke before the board made passionate, moving statements, which drew applause from fellow supporters.

“As much as I respect our law enforcement, you can’t be there. I need to be able to protect myself,” said Melissa Carter, county resident and Army veteran. “I need to be able to exercise my constitutional right.”

Harvey Harumal, a Tell City resident, spoke about his own experience. Originally from Singapore, Harumal is now a U.S. citizen and said it is important to defend the constitutional rights he has in this country. In his home country, those rights don’t exist and people suffer as a result.

“All we want is to protect our rights as American citizens. This is a great country. We want to keep it this way,” Harumal said. “This thing (the U.S. Constitution) is the most beautiful thing ever written, by your forefathers.”

Harumal added that he wants people to never take the U.S. Constitution for granted.

“To let it go, just one (amendment), jeopardizes all of it,” Harumal said. “If this is how we’re going to treat this, we might as well give up and become a third-world country.”

Tom Hauser, president of the Board of Commissioners, praised those who came out in support.

“I do appreciate the professionalism and the peacefulness of this movement,” Hauser said. “I agree with what’s going on, the voices need to be heard.”

Commissioner Randy Kleaving also voiced his support.

“What you guys are doing here is exactly what you’re supposed to be doing. That’s called grassroots. That’s where it’s got to start,” Kleaving said. “I agree with everything everybody has said here. We cannot let our constitution go by the wayside any which way at all.”

After hearing comments, the board of commissioners explained that they had their own version of the resolution that they were prepared to vote on, which differed slightly from the one originally proposed by the local Second Amendment sanctuary supporters.

In a unanimous 3-0 vote, the board of commissioners passed their version of the resolution, which mirrors a similar resolution passed earlier this month in Pike County.

One of the most noteworthy differences is that the version passed by the board does not use the word “sanctuary,” which was used in the title of the originally proposed version.

The originally proposed version had three points:

• “The Commissioners hereby express its (sic) continued commitment to support all provisions of the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Indiana, including the right of the people to keep and bear arms.”
• “The Commissioners hereby express its (sic) strong support of the rights of law-abiding Perry County Citizens to keep and bear arms.”
• “That this resolution shall become effective upon its approval.”

The version passed by the board contained two points:

• “That at no time shall it adopt any rule or ordinance regarding the right of its citizens to bear arms that violates the Constitutions of the United States and of the State of Indiana,
• “That at all times it will defend the people’s right to bear arms as established by the United States Supreme Court, and that at all times it will adhere to the limitations of I.C. 35-47-11.1-2.”

The board of commissioners’ version also had specific legal citations. It refers not only to the relevant parts of the U.S. and Indiana Constitutions, but also to a key Supreme Court cases, District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), where the court held that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to bear arms and is not limited to the establishment and arming of a militia. The commissioners’ version also references a section of Indiana law that forbids local governments from passing laws that regulate firearms, ammunition and firearms accessories.”

Second Amendment supporters at the meeting did not find any problem with those differences and said they were pleased with the outcome. Patrick Williams, who led the supporters and was the first to address the board, noted that the resolution has significant local support. Their Facebook page has 2,200 likes and the petition they organized had over 1,500 signatures as of Thursday night.

“We’ve had a lot of support from around the county. We had an excellent turnout tonight,” Williams said. “I’m happy with it. It gives us our support to move forward. It gives us the support of our county and local politicians.”

Copyright 2020