County attorney advises against current version of sanctuary ordinance image

A large crowd, approximately 50 people, attended the Dec. 17 Marshall County Fiscal Court meeting to support the first reading of an ordinance aimed at establishing Marshall as a “Second Amendment sanctuary county," which County Attorney Jason Darnall said he had only received the day before.

RACHEL KELLER COLLINS/The Tribune-Courier

Marshall County Judge-Executive Kevin Neal forged ahead this morning with the first reading of an ordinance Marshall County Attorney Jason Darnall said exceeds the authority of the fiscal court and, if passed as-is, will open up the sheriff’s deputies and the county to lawsuits.

“You are regulating firearms…call it regulation or deregulation, whatever you want…it’s not valid under Kentucky law,” Darnall said. “…And just because you put a sentence in there saying you’re not trying to regulate the KRS (Kentucky Revised Statute) doesn’t mean a judge is going to agree.”

KRS 65.870 prohibits local firearms control ordinances.

Neal said, “If it’s going to be decided in the courts and that’s the route we have to take then that’s the route we have to take. Our intent is not to break the law, but if a law written by the General Assembly is unconstitutional, I will break it every day.”

Neal said the ordinance introduced with a first reading during the Dec. 17 Marshall County Fiscal Court meeting was intended to “make it known we’re serious about Second Amendment rights and protecting them.”

Neal also said the timing was crucial because multiple pre-filed bills, which he acknowledged may never even get serious consideration from the General Assembly, were aimed at limiting Second Amendment rights. But when Commissioner Monti Collins asked for specific bill numbers, Neal wasn’t able to cite them.

Darnall expressed a number of issues with the ordinance but noted since he had only received a copy of the document Monday, the day before the meeting, he may have more issues than those which he articulated during the meeting.

Darnall told the fiscal court members they could enact policy which would incentivize enforcement or non-enforcement by the way they allocate resources. For example, he noted every state in the U.S. has the drinking age set at 21 because the federal highway department withholds funding if the states choose a lower age. The fiscal court could do something similar with policy and funding allocations, he explained, but they may not create penalties without proper authority—which is the goal of the ordinance as-written.

“I don’t have a problem with the goal, it’s how we get there,” Darnall added.

Neal read aloud the ordinance as it was written, despite Darnall’s objections, saying he had consulted a “constitutional attorney,” who he never called by name, who reportedly advised the ordinance was legal and acceptable as written. He also said he intends to distribute the ordinance to other judge-executives across the commonwealth and encourage them to do the same.

The second reading could take place during the Jan. 7, 2020 meeting.

More coverage will be available in the Dec. 24 edition of The Tribune-Courier.