Carroll County officials have taken a stand against Maryland's tough new gun law, voting to support law enforcement officials who use discretion in choosing when to enforce it.
The Board of County Commissioners unanimously passed a Second Amendment Preservation Resolution, stating that it believes Maryland's new law is unconstitutional.
"I find it interesting some counties have declared themselves sanctuaries for illegal immigrants," said Commissioner Richard Rothschild, referring to new Maryland laws granting illegal immigrants driver's licenses and in-state tuition for the children of some of those in the country illegally. He said the board was voting to make Carroll County a "Second Amendment sanctuary county."
Carroll County State's Attorney Jerry Barnes called the state law a "cheap political ploy." He reminded those in the audience that he personally reviewed every case that went through his office in determining which ones to pursue for charges.
"In the pursuit of 'true justice,' I will make factual determinations that distinguish honest mistakes as opposed to true criminal intent in regard to violations of the Firearms Safety Act of 2013," he said. Barnes said he wanted to make it "abundantly clear" that he would obey his oath of office in enforcing state law.
The law, signed earlier this month, bans 45 types of assault weapons; outlaws ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 bullets; requires licensing, training and fingerprinting for new handgun purchases; and prohibits gun ownership by the mentally ill. It goes into effect Oct. 1.
Two other counties -- Cecil and Harford -- also have passed resolutions opposing the law.
The National Rifle Association plans to file a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the gun law as soon as it goes into effect. However, that could be delayed if a petition drive to allow Marylanders to decide the law's fate through referendum on the 2014 ballot is successful.
Carroll County Sheriff Kenneth Tregoning characterized the law as unjust and said it would not help prevent gun crimes.
"I will exercise the constitutional authority of the office of sheriff to protect the rights of all Carroll County citizens," he said. "All lawful and reasonable considerations will be granted in the application of the Maryland Firearms Safety Act."
Rothschild said the purpose of the resolution was to let other county officials know the council has their back.
"What we can tell them is that if they want to use their discretion in a way to not criminalize otherwise law-abiding citizens, we support that decision," he said.
The offices of Gov. Martin O'Malley and Attorney General Douglas Gansler were unavailable for comment as all Maryland state workers were off for a furlough day on Friday.