In a heated public meeting on Wednesday, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to adopt a resolution that declares it a "Second Amendment Preservation County."
The move follows recent trends across the southern and western United States for municipalities to reaffirm their support for gun rights. Arizona's Apache, La Paz, Yavapai, and Mohave counties all have adopted such resolutions. Some have called themselves "sanctuaries," an apparent riffing on other cities' decisions to become sanctuaries for immigrants.
The resolution introduced by Chairman Clint Hickman on Wednesday doesn't use the word "sanctuary," but it's essentially a show of Maricopa County's support for constitutional Second Amendment rights.
Hickman introduced the resolution by explaining county residents have been asking him for it.
"I've had very many different constituents in my district asking me questions about this issue," he said. "If people know one thing about me, I come from the rural areas of Maricopa County. I like to listen in on what is going on."
Supervisor Steve Gallardo vocally objected to the measure, requesting that the board hold an executive session to discuss it further. He also argued the resolution was outside the purview of what the board should be doing.
"Resolutions should pull people together, not be divisive, not be mean-spirited, not be insensitive, not be partisan, and that’s what we have in front of us," he said. "This goes to the core values of many people. I think that we should slow down."
Supervisor Steve Chucri made a motion to pass the resolution without the final "be it further resolved" clause that stated the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors wouldn't "authorize or appropriate government funds" to infringe on Second Amendment rights, calling it "confusing" and unnecessary.
Hickman seconded the motion, and the board passed the resolution with only Gallardo's opposition.
"To my colleague Mr. Gallardo's comments, I hear them," Chucri said in the meeting. "We do resolutions quite often. We memorialize, we celebrate things with this body. Maricopa County, as you've heard me say, is a family. One big family. And sometimes families disagree."
The resolution doesn't change any laws, but several gun control groups nationwide have spoken out against similar declarations anyway, saying such measures can have a chilling effect on safety by encouraging law enforcement officials to stop enforcing gun-safety measures.
Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone has also spoken out against Second Amendment sanctuaries. Though he says he supports the Second Amendment, he participated in a digital press conference with the nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety in December condemning the municipal resolutions.
"For us to be arbitrary in our actions and to make decisions as to how, when, and what laws we will execute and enforce means that we are literally and figuratively taking the law into our own hands and making partial decisions to the detriment of what is the will of the people through the process of democracy," he said in the conference.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Phoenix New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Phoenix's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Sheriff's office spokesman Tommy McKone told Phoenix New Times in an email at the time that Penzone participated not as part of any organization, but as a law enforcement professional.
"Sheriff Penzone is committed to remaining true to the promise made to the communities he serves, by practicing impartial and nonpolitical actions during the course of his duties," McKone said. "Denying, ignoring, or refusing to recognize and apply the laws as they are written is in conflict with the oath of office taken by law enforcement professionals and the core [principle] of his office."
Read a draft of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors' full resolution below. The version the supervisors passed on Wednesday removes the final "be it further resolved" clause on the second page: