Mt. Holly Springs officials pass resolution to uphold Second Amendment

2013-05-17T07:15:00Z 2013-05-17T07:22:34Z Mt. Holly Springs officials pass resolution to uphold Second AmendmentJoseph Cress, The Sentinel The Sentinel
May 17, 2013 7:15 am  • 

While declaring their support of the Second Amendment, Mt. Holly Springs officials stopped short of adopting an ordinance that would declare federal laws restricting gun ownership invalid within borough limits.

Council members Tuesday voted unanimously in favor of a resolution recognizing the right of local residents to purchase, own and possess firearms "free of unreasonable restraint and regulation."

The resolution also mentioned that the council recognizes the amendment as an essential right important to the founding of the country. Unlike an ordinance, a resolution is non-binding under the law.

Chris Rietmann, a borough resident, asked the council in April to adopt a Second Amendment Preservation Ordinance. Rather than take action, the council referred the ordinance to its legislative committee for review, Rietmann said.

Section 2A of the ordinance would have the council declare all federal acts, laws, orders, rules and regulations on gun ownership — past, present and future — in violation of the Second Amendment.

Had the council adopted the ordinance, it would have declared such laws to be invalid in the borough, not recognized by the borough and considered null and void of effect within borough limits.

Rietmann said another goal of the ordinance would be to forbid borough officials including the police from assisting the federal government in carrying out what he called “acts that deny local residents their Second Amendment rights.”

Constitution attacks

There have been a lot of attacks on the Constitution, particularly the Second Amendment, since the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Rietmann said.

“I believe that the Framers of the Constitution chose their words carefully and, for the most part, it has worked very well for us for the last 200-plus years,” Rietmann said. “I don’t believe you can legislate natural rights.”

The Framers of the Constitution were students of such philosophers as John Locke and St. Thomas Aquinas who professed that mankind has certain rights either granted by a creator or part of the human condition, Rietmann said. “These rights cannot be given or taken away by government. One of the rights is self-defense.”

Although the council went with a resolution instead of the draft ordinance, Rietmann said he appreciates that “they did take steps that were certainly positive.” He said the council did not offer any explanation during its Tuesday meeting.

“I will always support the Constitution,” Councilwoman Suzanne Cornman said Wednesday. She explained that Keith Brenneman, borough solicitor, had advised the council not to pass an ordinance on a matter that awaits a resolution before the federal courts.

Local vs. federal law

Brandon Lenoir, a visiting professor of political science at Dickinson College, called the resolution by borough council redundant and unnecessary. As public officials, council members take an oath of office to uphold the law as specified in the U.S. and Pennsylvania constitutions.

“We are a Federalist system,” Lenoir said. “The federal government establishes laws that are supreme across all states.”

State and local government only has the right and authority to step up a federal regulation or restriction, not roll it back, Lenoir said. “A local municipality cannot just thumb their nose at the federal government.”

Rietmann said the draft ordinance is based on sample legislation provided to him from the Tenth Amendment Center (TAC). The organization’s website describes TAC as “a national think tank that works to preserve and protect the principles of strictly limited government through information, education and activism.”

The Tenth Amendment reads “powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Lenoir said the Tenth Amendment does not apply in this case because the Second Amendment and supporting case law makes gun control and gun ownership subject to the supremacy of the federal government.

Any attempt by a local municipality to adopt an ordinance contrary to that would be quickly struck down, Lenoir said. “You can not just pick and chose what laws and what constitutional amendment you want to follow.”

A common tactic

The aftermath of Sandy Hook is just the latest example of the tendency of the National Rifle Association and similar organizations to “circle the wagons” and fight to make sure additional restrictions on gun ownership are not put in place, Lenoir said. “This is similar to what took place after Columbine.”

Lenoir explained that whenever there is an incident of extreme gun violence, it generates a lot of media attention which, in turn, generates a lot of sympathy and a push by lawmakers to enact new laws and stepped-up oversight.

“What the NRA is trying to do is to push back on the sympathy and say ‘Let’s not jump to conclusions,’” Lenoir said. “The NRA is quick to get in front so that reactionary laws do not get put into place.”

A gun owner and member of the Harrisburg Liberty Alliance, Rietmann also plans to present the ordinance to the Cumberland County board of commissioners at an upcoming meeting. He offered to help others wishing to bring similar language before their local municipal government board for consideration.

Copyright 2015 The Sentinel. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(27) Comments

  1. eels2010
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    eels2010 - May 20, 2013 3:30 pm
    Someone had a letter to the editor recently along these lines. I realize there is an abundance of paranoia when it comes to guns, on both sides. But, while yes it's you're right to own a weapon, you should also be subject to the responsibilities that come with it. You may be the most law-abiding gun owner out there, but some procedures need to be in place to weed out those who aren't. If you really think they're coming to take your guns, I feel sorry for you. The NRA is drumming up false fears.
  2. crietmann
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    crietmann - May 19, 2013 11:01 pm
    Though Washington State and Colorado have recently nullified federal drug enforcement laws? 20-some states are opting out of Obamacare? And going back to the Alien and Sedition Acts - the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions were open acts of nullification. On the 2nd Amendment, look to Kansas and Missouri's recent moves. The meat of the Mt. Holly move was to ban local officials from assisting federal agents - not to use our tax dollars to enforce what we believe are unconstitutional laws.
  3. crietmann
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    crietmann - May 19, 2013 10:58 pm
    I feel so much sorrow for the families of Newtown it pains me. But in the same sense negating natural rights (which I believe the right of self-defense is) for all Americans is not the answer. A corollary might be the 1st Amendment and Freedom of Speech - I loath the hateful speech of the KKK and the Westboro Baptist Church but I would never support a law to restrict it. While this 2nd Amendment action was a move I chose recently, I also attack assaults on the rest of the Constitution.
  4. crietmann
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    crietmann - May 19, 2013 10:52 pm
    I believe I do have a clear understanding of the Supremacy Clause which I'd boil down to this - the Constitution and any Constitutional Laws passed by the federal government are the Supreme law of the land. My point bring up the Alien and Sedition Acts was to illustrate that just because a federal law is passed does not make it constitutional. Even if a law is upheld by the Supreme Court does not make it constitutionally sound - for example, the Dred Scott decision.
  5. RaySampsin
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    RaySampsin - May 19, 2013 4:51 pm
    Forget what type of weapon. Frankly the background checks these days aren't enough. (They're also not 100%. How is it ok that 10% can buy guns without.) Look to Canada for a comprehensive 'check' for gun owners. Let's start screening more carefully and make as sure as we can through references and other things that folks are responsible and educated enough to have the guns they own.
  6. A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Waste
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    A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Waste - May 19, 2013 8:52 am
    The point of my post, creitann, was to support professor Lenoir's application of the Supremacy Clause, which you seemed to not fully understand.
  7. Sokrates
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    Sokrates - May 18, 2013 9:56 am
    This idea that we are putting guns above people is a straw man. We are saying that we do not want further infringement of a fundamental right, especially since *no* study has ever shown that gun control reduces crime. In a nation with 310 million people and 300+ million guns, 9,000 murders is not the rampant epidemic of crime gun controllers would have us believe. Moreover, violent crime has dropped even as the number of guns Americans own has shot upwards in the last 20 years.
  8. jackncarlisle
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    jackncarlisle - May 17, 2013 5:28 pm
    I had no idea so many people read the electronic edition! So many passionate comments. Derf is correct. I do not know the gun laws, but eels2010 makes an excellent point, Are we putting weapons above human life? I have a daughter that lives in Newtown, CT. I wonder how many of the parents of children killed by the son of the mother who bought these weapons legally would answer? Is the Second Amendment argument used by people who only selfishly want what they want? What is the cost?
  9. crietmann
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    crietmann - May 17, 2013 4:14 pm
    And Jefferson and Madison were incorrect in proposing nullification of the Alien and Sedition Acts in the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions? When the federal government made it a crime to speak disparagingly of them (1st Amendment violation) the states should have enforced it, though they knew that it was unconstitutional? The states were within their rights as sovereigns to nullify those unconstitutional laws. I believe in the sovereignty of states; without which there is no federal gvmt.
  10. crietmann
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    crietmann - May 17, 2013 4:04 pm
    I didn't bring up the Supremacy Clause, Prof. Lenoir did.

    It's text: This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.

    The Constitution and Constitutional Laws are supreme. My point.
  11. Derf
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    Derf - May 17, 2013 12:07 pm
    jackncarlisle, people like you are why we are having this discussion - you don't even understand the gun control laws. The assault weapon ban does not ban one single automatic weapon. It bans rifles that are used everyday by citizens who are legally using them for hunting, target shooting, self defense. Every single firearm in that bill is specified as semi-automatic (NOT automatic). The misinformation put out by the MSM is just amazing. At least educate yourself before making a decision.
  12. A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Waste
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    A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Waste - May 17, 2013 10:12 am
    I will now let you return to arguing about the merits of owning an Uzi.
  13. A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Waste
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    A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Waste - May 17, 2013 10:12 am
    Part 3

    Nullification is the legal theory that states have the right to nullify, or invalidate, federal laws which they view as being unconstitutional; or federal laws that they view as having exceeded Congresses’ constitutionally authorized powers. The Supreme Court has rejected nullification, finding that under Article III of the Constitution, the power to declare federal laws unconstitutional has been delegated to the federal courts. States do not have the authority to nullify federal law.
  14. A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Waste
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    A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Waste - May 17, 2013 10:10 am
    Part 2

    Article VI, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution, known as the Supremacy Clause, establishes the U.S. Constitution, federal statutes, and U.S. Treaties as "the supreme law of the land." The text provides that these are the highest form of law in the U.S. legal system, and mandates that all state judges must follow federal law when a conflict arises between federal law and either the state constitution or state law of any state.
  15. A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Waste
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    A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Waste - May 17, 2013 10:09 am
    3 part response:

    For everyone using the constitution as the basis for your argument, it might not hurt to actually read the constitution. It can require critical thinking skills to see the inherent contradiction of supporting an amendment to the constitution but not supporting the Supremacy Clause. Admittedly, is can be frustrating when facts get in the way of your opinion.

    The purpose of the ordinance proposed by Mr. Rietmann was to ignore the Supremacy Clause. What is the Supremacy Clause?
  16. eels2010
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    eels2010 - May 17, 2013 9:41 am
    While I may think it's cool to drive a tank through the streets of Carlisle, the law prevents me from doing so. While you may enjoy shooting an AK-47, these tools of mass killing should be outlawed. Stop putting weapons above human life. So many NRA folks are the first to mention the sanctity of life, except when it comes to the tools that take away more life than any abortion clinic.
  17. Believer2012
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    Believer2012 - May 17, 2013 8:23 am
    "automatic weapons"? Apparently you are believing everything that the "Obama Gun Confiscators" want you to believe. Automoatic weapons can only be owned by persons possessing the required licenses and then are closely monitored. The media continues to feed the frenzy by using these false terms! Sheeple will lead to the downfall of this country and the total loss of freedom - just read your history books or do you think those are all fiction? WAKE UP !!!
  18. AnotherangryAmerican
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    AnotherangryAmerican - May 17, 2013 5:40 am
    Keep on watching TV folks. And don't try to learn anything anymore. This is what the government wants. A dumb, non-caring populace which is willing to trade Contitiutuinal rights for "protection. This is the problem with the USA now. No one wants to learn what your "rights" truly are. In these times,, you are NOT a "free-man" You ARE owned by the government.
  19. AnotherangryAmerican
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    AnotherangryAmerican - May 17, 2013 5:37 am
    This is to Jackincarlisle.
    To own any "automatic" weaqpon is very hard. Many checks are in place to keep this type of weapon from getting into criminals hands. The point I am making is this. A "criminal" WILL get anything they want to do what they want. Regardless of any "backgroung" checking. The new proposed background "checks" are setting the owners up for inclusion into a national database of owners which will make confiscation easier to do when TPTB are ready to TRY to do it.
  20. AnotherangryAmerican
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    AnotherangryAmerican - May 17, 2013 5:33 am
    The 2nd Amendment has NOTHING to do with "self protection" or "hunting". It was included as a stop for the people of this country to stop and overturn and replace an oppressive government.

    The "sheeple" seem to forget that when a countries citizens weapons are taken or outlawed, then total tyranny and genocide takes place. All one has to do is look back at every country where weapons were "outlawed" and see the death brought on to the people by tyrannical "leaders".
  21. crietmann
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    crietmann - May 17, 2013 12:06 am
    With all respect to Prof. Lenoir I feel his assertion of the Supremacy Clause is somewhat flawed. It's a common defense of any overreaching federal government claim of powers that are not enumerated.
  22. crietmann
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    crietmann - May 16, 2013 11:39 pm
    Well put. And it's not just the 2nd Amendment under attack - I would think the Sentinel should be concerned with the government's seizure of the AP's phone records - a blatant violation of the 1st Amendment.
  23. B
    Report Abuse
    B - May 16, 2013 11:38 pm
    "They that give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary saftey deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin 1759. Criminals will always have any firearm no matter what laws exist. Why do people think otherwise?
  24. B
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    B - May 16, 2013 11:29 pm
    The 2nd is not about deer hunting. I would rather be well armed if someone tried to harm me or my family. A good friend woke up in the middle of the night to a drugged up gang member high on Pcp. He was shot 17 times before being stop by a 9 mm because of the drugs he was on. Criminals do not follow gun laws. The 2nd is about the defense of individuals and it is also about defending all enemies foreign and domestic for the better of we the people. Study history and learn about the 2nd.
  25. crietmann
    Report Abuse
    crietmann - May 16, 2013 11:19 pm
    The 2nd Amendment wasn't drafted to protect deer hunters, but to protect the people in the same manner firearms protected our Founders generation from a tyrannical government. If the 2nd Amendment is open for debate, then why not the 1st Amendment? Do we really need freedom of religion, for example? My answer is yes of course, and that we are talking about natural rights, and thus part of who we are, not subject to legislation. The Bill of Rights was a condition of ratification by many states
  26. crietmann
    Report Abuse
    crietmann - May 16, 2013 11:07 pm
    I'm not a hunter either, but I value your natural rights. There is a way to get restrictions on firearms done in a constitutional manner - amend the Constitution.
  27. jackncarlisle
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    jackncarlisle - May 16, 2013 10:38 pm
    Not being a hunter I don't understand why someone needs automatic assault weapons with over 10 bullets in a cartridge. Are deer that hard to kill? Why does someone need to target practice with such a weapon. Can you even see the target afterwards. I know this is a free country but my rights end where your nose begins and vice versa.
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