WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER
A sanctuary, according to Merriam Webster, is
“A consecrated place such as:
“A: The ancient Hebrew temple at Jerusalem or its holy of holies.
“B: The most sacred part of a religious building, such as the part of a Christian church in which the altar is placed.
“C: A place of refuge and protection.
“D: A refuge for wildlife where predators are controlled and hunting is illegal.”
In 2018, California implemented a sanctuary law, SB 54, which largely prohibits police from cooperating with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) unless an individual commits a serious crime.
This law was designed to be legal and operative under the California constitution, as California police are not tasked with enforcing federal laws, unless at the scene when a crime is committed. Even then a federal law officer has to take charge of suspects at first chance and do the criminal investigation.
The law applies statewide and is not subject to reinterpretation by counties, cities, and towns. It was designed to keep ICE, a federal agency, from dragging every local and state California law officer into employment helping ICE bust potential illegal immigrants.
The sanctuary law will probably be challenged in court, but there are pretty strong arguments, based on precedents, to support it. To be clear, this is not a law trying to protect immigrants but a law to safeguard every human being in California. Which also means not abetting the appalling police state like operations of ICE.
On another front, many rural Virginia counties have now enacted so-called “gun sanctuary” laws. These laws claim to supersede any state or federal laws pertaining to greater gun control. The laws are not written to protect citizens, but arguably put them in greater jeopardy. They theoretically protect the right to own any gun you want; every other law be damned.
This is generally seen as a political ploy to try to embarrass the Democrat-controlled state Legislature and the Democrat governor, and to roil the blood of gun enthusiasts. It’s a nice piece of Republican agitprop theater, but it is all sound and no fury.
Federal and state laws on gun control cannot be nullified by local laws. No matter how many billboards the proponents of gun sanctuaries buy, or bumper stickers they make, or how many local laws they pass, those laws are not enforceable.
Some New York towns, cities and counties are now facing similar calls to become so-called “gun sanctuary” communities. Again, any town council or county board can write any law they want – even if the board’s legal adviser advises them not to.
Theoretically, anything could be written, voted on, and passed. Towns could vote to secede from the state, or to declare south as north, and north as south. But that doesn’t make the laws sensible, constitutional or enforceable, and any attempt to enforce a gun sanctuary law would certainly wind up in court, with the local government losing.
Again, this is political theater, consuming government time and public money while other issues go unattended.
Our own Oneonta now has a group calling for Otsego County to become a “gun sanctuary.” One of those proposing the law is recently elected county Rep. Rick Brockway, R-Laurens.
For the record I’ve always enjoyed reading Rick’s outdoor columns, which had no political content, and I sincerely missed them when he was running for office. But now that he’s in office he has revealed himself to be more than a respected and knowledgeable outdoorsman – he has also revealed himself to be yet another Republican grandstander and fear monger, with zero understanding of the law.
I’d like to forget the legal idiocy and go back to the original definition of sanctuary.
A sanctuary is a place of refuge and protection for human beings and other living things, often in a house of God. Describing a sanctuary as a place where every gun is protected while every person is threatened by ever more guns is absurd.
It is at best a lie and at worst blasphemous. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them.” He did not say, “Let the little .38 specials come to me, and do not hinder them.”