Rurals consider 2nd Amendment sanctuary declarations

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MINDEN, Nev. (KOLO) Few issues have exposed the political and cultural divide between rural and urban Nevada like recent passage of SB143.

It was born of an initiative petition which led to a ballot question passed by the voters, rejected as unenforceable by former Governor Brian Sandoval and Attorney General Adam Laxalt, but was given new immediacy by the Las Vegas mass shooting.

Governor Sisolak campaigned on it as did a number of southern Nevada legislators and it found an early quick passage in this legislative session.

Those opposed could only stand back and register their complaint. Now they are doing something more.

Some rural county sheriffs are taking the lead,

Eureka County Sheriff Jesse Watts sent a letter to the governor saying he would refuse to stand by while citizens are turned into criminals by the "unconstitutional actions of misguided politicians."

Others are urging their local governments to pass resolutions declaring their counties Second Amendment Sanctuaries.

Such measures are being considered in Elko, Lander and Lyon, as well as other counties. In Douglas County, the issue is being driven by the county commission.

Sheriff Dan Coverley describes himself as a strong Second Amendment supporter who believes the new law is misguided and unenforceable, and won't make his community any safer.

"I think it just makes it more difficult for people who follow the rules to do something with their property. And that's what this is in this instance. It's their property."

But he says he can't pick and choose which laws to enforce, nor can anyone else.

"I can't allow them to tell me which laws to enforce and which laws not to. They don't have that authority."

Lyon County Manager Jeff Page is wrestling with the same issue as he drafts a resolution for his commissioners. He says the resolution should address the concerns of his commissioners, but not infringe on the duties of the sheriff or other elected officials, something over which he notes the commissioners have no authority.

Whatever emerges, the law will stand until or unless it's changed. In any case Coverley expects to use his department's resources elsewhere.

"I have limited resources and I don't see myself dedicating a lot of time and resources to worrying about this law."

In other words, his department is not coming for any law-abiding citizen's guns.

Its critics say the new law is little more than a political statement which will bring little change. It may turn out that the same will be said of declarations of Second Amendment Sanctuaries.