Based on a memo issued by Judge-Executive Kevin Neal on social media at 11:14 p.m. on Jan. 3, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron and his team of attorneys agreed with the half-dozen attorneys and retired judges that the proposed ordinance set to establish Marshall County as a Second Amendment sanctuary contains issues that need to be addressed. The memo states the second reading and vote on the proposed ordinance, which was scheduled for this morning, will take place following revisions.
According to the memo, Neal, accompanied by Marshall County Sheriff Eddie McGuire, traveled to Frankfort Friday to meet with Cameron and his team of attorneys "to ensure that any steps Marshall County takes to protect the 2nd Amendment rights of citizens to keep and bear arms does not violate state law." And while Cameron "expressed strong support for the 2nd Amendment," he and his team will be working closely with Marshall County Attorney Jason Darnall and Neal to revise the ordinance.
Regarding a timeline, Neal stated a finalized draft of an ordinance will be presented to the fiscal court members "in the coming weeks." He said the time and date would be announced once set.
Kentucky County Attorney's Association President Martin Hatfield, Pulaski County Attorney (Republican), issued an opinion on the sanctuary county ordinances/resolutions which have recently been in the news. He cited a number of Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS), case law rulings made by the Kentucky Court of Appeals and Opinions of the Attorney General (OAG) which address the same concerns with the proposed ordinance as many, many others.
"While counties that have enacted, or seek to enact, sanctuary ordinances argue that they are not 'regulating' the possession of firearms in opposition to [KRS 65.870], taking action against those who follow or enforce state law is effectively a regulation on firearms that conflicts with state law," he wrote in part. "Much of this proposed legislation imposes penalties on actors, such as local law enforcement, for following valid state or federal laws. A county government does not have the authority to invalidate a state or federal law; so aside from having no real legal effect, sanctuary legislation could potentially subject counties to costly legal battles which would likely be fruitless."
The ordinance designed to establish Marshall County as a Second Amendment sanctuary county was presented for a first reading on Dec. 17, 2019 by Neal; the document was authored by a member of Gun Owners of America, a gun lobbyist group.
Darnall, during the first reading, advised the court against moving forward with the ordinance as it was presented; he advised the measure exceeded the authority of the fiscal court and, if passed as it was presented that day, would open up the sheriff's deputies and the county to lawsuits they would likely lose.
During the Dec. 17 meeting, Neal told Darnall and the fiscal court, "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."
In the weeks following, the ordinance generated considerable concerns among the legal community including a retired Kentucky Supreme Court Justice, two retired circuit judges now serving in other legal capacities, a domestic crisis expert and the community.
Up until he issued the memo late Friday night, Neal had stood his ground with the ordinance as it was proposed during the first reading. He even denounced Darnall and others who expressed concern with the measure as being ignorant to constitutional law and saying their opposition was politically-charged.
He repeatedly cited Kent Masterson Brown, an attorney from Lexington, as a "constitutional attorney" with expertise in the subject matter who backed the measure. Neal paid Brown $800 for consultation regarding the ordinance now delayed.
The Tribune-Courier contacted Brown but he did not respond to our inquiry. According to the information published on his website, a number of the decisions listed are related to health care law. He also appears to have a special interest in history, particularly the Civil War.