The Carteret County Board of Commissioners is poised to pass a resolution declaring support for second amendment rights Monday, Feb. 17.
The item is included on the consent agenda for the board’s 6 pm meeting at the county courthouse.
In brief, the resolution states that the board is concerned about potential efforts by the NC General Assembly or US Congress to restrict gun rights and will oppose any efforts to unconstitutionally restrict the right to bear arms.
Since the resolution is included as an item of consent, it is expected to pass without further discussion. Board Chair Bill Smith (R) said that the board normally approves resolutions as matters of consent unless it is recognizing a person, group or special occasion.
Down East Commissioner, Jonathan Robinson (R), said although he doesn’t think gun ownership is being threatened in North Carolina, he supports the resolution as drafted.
“There’s enough citizens in the county here that want the support of the second amendment highlighted here,” he said. “[Gun ownership] is guaranteed in the law of the land, the constitution.”
Several gun-related bills have been proposed during the 2019-2020 session of the General Assembly.
Included among those are bills that would change the carry and purchase permitting, such as a Republican backed bill allowing those 18 and older to carry a concealed handgun without a permit and a Democratic backed bill that would require a permit to purchase shotguns, rifles or assault weapons. No action has been taken on those bills since spring 2019.
The second amendment resolution was born from a local, online gun rights group headed up by Ike Rettenmair, a former Sergeant in the US Marine Corps who has called Carteret County home for nearly 20 years.
“After seeing what was taking place in Virginia as well as other places in regards to politicians who think they are above the constitution trying to infringe in our second amendment rights, I saw a post on Facebook that there was a movement [to restrict gun laws] in NC,” Rettenmair said.
“I thought, ‘I can’t just sit here and do nothing, I can’t expect someone else to start something,’ so I started the group on Facebook for Carteret, added a few folks and we are now pushing 1900 members.”
Rettenmair then started the petition “Make Carteret County a Sanctuary County,” on change.org. As of Feb. 14, 1,896 people have signed it.
He also began reaching out to county officials, including the Board of Commissioners, Sheriff Asa Buck and County Manager Tommy Burns, to draw up a resolution supporting the second amendment, or “2A” for short.
Though he didn’t hear back from any commissioners directly, Burns told Rettenmair that the board would support a gun rights resolution.
“I expect it will pass unanimously, as all of them are committed Republicans who support all of our constitutionally given rights, especially the Second Amendment,” he said. Burns added that he was told that the local arm of the Republican Party would also be taking up the issue.
Sheriff Buck told Rettenmair he would support the commissioners if they were to take up a resolution and that he was encouraged by the number of people speaking out on the issue.
“As a Sheriff who understands that individuals are their own first line of defense, I strongly support the right of law abiding citizens to bear arms, and that right should not be infringed, and that any regulation on firearms should not be unduly burdensome on law abiding people,” Buck wrote to Rettenmair.
Buck added that the state had rolled back some regulations and that the Sheriffs of NC supported those changes.
Katie Tomberlin, director of the Carteret County Democratic Party said 2A rights are already guaranteed by the Constitution, and that the likelihood of the second amendment being repealed is near zero.
“The steps necessary to repeal an amendment make it a near impossible task,” she said, adding that if 13 states refused to back the repeal, it would stall.
“We live in the South, an area rich with a history of fishing and hunting. They cannot take your guns, or even consider taking them without a long and arduous process.”
Tomberlin said she sees the timing of the resolution as suspect, as it is an election year and three of the six county commissioners are up for re-election.
“Do not be fooled by this attempt to rile up the base and the false sense of them caring about what you want. The second amendment is not in jeopardy.”
“It’s certainly under attack around the country,” he said, specifically referencing recent events in Virginia. “It certainly may not be under attack in Carteret County right now, but why not posture ourselves to send a clear voice…that we will not sit back, watch, and wait.”
Though the resolution doesn’t make changes to local law, Rettenmair said it was an important step for 2A supporters.
“I realize a resolution is not law, but this will certainly send a clear message that out county supports the 2A and will help send a solid message to Raleigh of our stance to protect that right.”