Cambria County courthouse

Cambria County Courthouse is shown in this file photo.

EBENSBURG – The Cambria County Board of Commissioners on Thursday passed a resolution expressing their support of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, which protects “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.”

In the resolution, Commissioners Thomas C. Chernisky, B.J. Smith and Scott W. Hunt expressed “their deep commitment to the rights of the law-abiding citizens of Cambria County to keep and bear arms,” their “opposition to any law that is found unconstitutional under the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution” and their intent to “oppose, within the limits of the Constitutions of the United States and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, any efforts to unconstitutionally restrict such rights.”

“I support the right to bear arms,” Chernisky said. “I support the law of the land, and I felt it was the proper thing to do to approve this resolution.”

“My opinion is, I’m a hunter,” Smith added. “I’m a Second Amendment person.”

The impetus behind the resolution was a recent movement by a gun-rights group, the Gun Owners of America, to push counties across Pennsylvania to declare themselves “Second Amendment sanctuary counties” and pass ordinances preventing county resources from being used to support federal or state laws that restrict the Second Amendment unconstitutionally. Hunt said the commissioners recently received a petition supporting such a move.

Such ordinances “typically prevent the enforcement and expenditure of funds for various gun control proposals, such as emergency protection orders, gun bans, registration schemes, enforcement of gun background checks and red flag laws,” Val Finnell, Pennsylvania director for the Gun Owners of America, wrote in a post on the group’s website.

Chernisky noted on Thursday that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled that regulation of firearms is the responsibility of the state Legislature, not county-level or municipal government.

Bradford County passed a resolution – not an ordinance – in December designating the county as a Second Amendment Sanctuary. Most local governments have opted to pass resolutions, which serve more as expressions of opinion, than ordinances, which are intended to set law, according to the Mises Institute, an Alabama-based think tank.

Patrick Bailor, of Twin Rocks, and several other county residents attended Thursday's meeting as “concerned citizens” in support of Second Amendment rights. After the meeting, Bailor said he was pleased by the commissioners’ resolution.

“I’m happy to hear that we have people, at least at county level, that support the Second Amendment,” he said. “Hopefully, they’ll fight for our rights all the way up to the state level.”

Mark Pesto is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at @MarkPesto.

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