Courtney Griffieth, 22, turns out to be the leader of the nearly 90,000 supporters who have persuaded more than 100 Kentucky counties to declare themselves sanctuaries for gun rights. She loves guns and the feel of a rifle’s recoil against her shoulder, among other feelings. “You always leave the range feeling better than when you got there,” she said.
“But most importantly, she loves what guns represent. They are, she believes, the Founding Fathers' insurance policy against tyranny — the safeguard for every other right spelled out in the U.S. Constitution,” said Courier-Journal.
Griffieth welcomed her role as one of the state’s most prominent defenders of gun ownership. She helped Kentucky United grow to nearly 90,000 members. The group finds itself in turmoil following revelations that founder John Cartwright is a felon, forbidden from owning a gun.
“A lot of people are pushing for me to be ahead of this because they’re like, you’re the future of this,” she said. According to Courier-Journal, Kentucky United’s members have packed county meetings across the state in the last two months. This is to lobby for the passage of so-called Second Amendment sanctuary resolutions.
Nearly all of Kentucky’s 120 counties have adopted versions of “2A sanctuary resolutions.” These resolutions are public declarations of opposition toward any infringement on what supporters see as their right to keep and bear arms.
According to gun violence-prevention advocates, these resolutions are “the byproduct of a campaign of fear and misinformation designed to distract from efforts to find real solutions to America's gun violence epidemic, which claims thousands of lives every year – including hundreds in Kentucky,” as reported by Courier-Journal.
“They’re really overstepping their role in the constitutional system and undermining the rule of law,” said Kathi Crowe, legislative lead volunteer for gun violence-prevention group Moms Demand Action’s Kentucky chapter. “I think a lot of this is to intimidate parents, survivors and people who want protection from gun violence.”
Griffieth grew up around guns but gave up hunting when the screams of a deer she shot sounded like a baby crying. Essentially for Griffieth, owning a gun is about self-defense.
“I’m going to have a way to protect myself if I should go up against a male attacker that could overpower me, or multiple attackers,” she said. “I’m not going to be in a ditch somewhere.”
Just like Griffieth, John Cartwright, 51, had guns in his childhood. He comes from a military family. His father served in the Army, and he said his ancestors were Revolutionary War officers.
“My dad taught me a gun was always loaded, even if it wasn’t,” Cartwright said. “It wasn't a fear thing. It was respect.”
The respect for guns and his family’s relation to America’s birth prompted his interest in the Constitution and his path toward gun-rights advocates. “I knew the Constitution before I got out of grade school,” he said.
“Even today, he loves to talk about the Second Amendment, about how the word ‘regulated’ meant something different back then, and about how the Founding Fathers didn’t intend to limit the type of weapons owned ‘or even who can own them,’” said USA Today.
In April 2018, leaders in the rural southern county of Effingham, Illinois, grew significantly concerned with gun-control proposals. They passed their own “sanctuary” resolution – among the nation’s first aimed at protecting the Second Amendment. “It’s a buzzword, a word that really gets attention,” county board Vice Chairman David Campbell told The Associated Press. A year later, more than half of Illinois’s 102 counties had passed similar resolutions.
Courier-Journal reported that “it’s now estimated that Second Amendment sanctuary resolutions have been adopted in various forms by hundreds of local governments in both red and blue states – at least 20 in all.”
“The current wave of 2A sanctuary resolutions in Kentucky took root in Appalachian counties near Virginia’s border. Harlan County passed what is likely the state’s first, on Dec. 17, 2019, modifying language from a resolution passed in southwest Virginia county,” the report added.
Harlan County Judge-Executive Dan Mosley said he heard from officials in 38 other Kentucky counties after it passed, all asking for a copy. What causes fear among gun owners is talk of an “unfiled bill to legalize extreme-risk protection orders, which critics say violate due process rights guaranteed by the Fifth and 14th amendments.”
Griffieth said these red flags were a big push “because most of us feel like that one had the biggest threat of passing.” She kept track of when 2A resolutions would be on county fiscal court agendas and updated a map as counties scheduled meetings and passed resolutions.
Fourteen counties had adopted 2A resolutions by January 4th. Seventeen days later, the total increased to 92 counties.