Johnny Cash’s soulful ballad Don’t Take Your Guns to Town is not about gun violence but is a metaphor of innocents who ignore advice about unknown dangers. In an apparent bout of high dudgeon, Carroll County, Virginia’s Board of Supervisors (BOS) unanimously passed a resolution declaring the jurisdiction a “gun sanctuary.”
The declaration is in line with a sporadic, similar expression of sentiment in several states where sheriffs have declared they will not enforce state gun laws that they deem violate the Second Amendment. Of course, this is an extraordinary display of nullification unheard of since shortly before the Civil War and even more extraordinary since it is espoused by law enforcement personnel.
Carroll County’s announcement, it must be said, is devilishly clever as it bans the use of
public funds of the county being used to restrict Second Amendment rights or to aid in the unnecessary unconstitutional restriction of the rights under the Second Amendment of the citizens of Carroll County to bear arms.
In this respect, the county’s public policy is something like the Hyde Amendment barring public funds for abortion. Of course, the county also passed a resolution against abortion. It’s conceivable that the breadth of the Hyde-like ban could pose difficult choices were the Commonwealth to adopt a “red flag” statute permitting removal of weapons in cases involving persons considered a threat to themselves or neighbors.
Carroll County gave the current president 78% of its votes, so it seems safe to conclude that the prohibition is likely to withstand any test of time. Clearly, the BOS has utter confidence in its sheriff, who would be on the front line in determining “unnecessary” restrictions of Second Amendment rights. By its terms, the resolution is a de facto and de jure bullet-proof vest for local law enforcement. Kind of a wink-wink nullification of gun control laws.
In March 1912, the Carroll County Courthouse in Hillsville was the scene of a notorious shootout between members of the Allen Clan and local lawmen following a jury conviction of a paterfamilias of the clan. The sheriff, county prosecutor, and judge suffered fatal wounds in a case that involved, among other things, blood family ties and partisan politics. (https://www.roanoke.com/news/virginia/the-courthouse-tragedy-gunfight-in-hillsville-in/article_45d0d7f3-6e1f-57c4-83be-fceb3d98dafd.html).
The admonition to young Billy Joe, restless on the farm, “leave your guns at home,” was uttered by his mother. Billy, having polished his cowboy boots, consoled his mom by saying “I wouldn’t shoot without a cause.” Well, that reason for living was forgotten following a drink of hard liquor at the saloon where a “dusty cowpoke began to laugh him down.” Restless Billy was too slow on the draw as:
The crowd all gathered round
And wondered at his final words.
Don’t take your guns to town, son,
Leave your guns at home, Bill.
Apparently, neither history nor Johnny Cash could persuade the good leaders of Carroll County in their devotion to the paranoia that infects Second Amendment cultists, causing delirious phantoms of jack-booted military types ripping the guns from their hands. It appears they prefer Charlton Heston’s faux heroic image of cold, dead hands.