U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- The Second Amendment Sanctuary movement started in Effingham County, Illinois, but it really took off after the 2019 Virginia elections. Democrats took over the legislature and introduced a slew of gun control measures like “assault weapons” and magazine size restrictions.
Virginians were outraged. The state went from very friendly to gun owners to downright hostile. In response, the Second Amendment Sanctuary movement exploded across the state. Over 95% of the state declared itself a Second Amendment Sanctuary. People waited into the early morning hours to demand their locality become a Second Amendment Sanctuary. The movement was so powerful it forced the legislature to back off its most extreme gun control measures.
From there, it spread across the country. Noah Davis was one person at the center of the movement. He helped pass resolutions and ordinances across the commonwealth and beyond. He became the de facto historical expert on the Second Amendment Sanctuary movement, even being referenced by people like Glenn Beck.
Noah runs sanctuarycounties.com, a website that tracks which localities have become Second Amendment Sanctuaries and contains resources for people wanting their localities to pass similar resolutions and ordinances. The site counted on AdSense revenue to run, but recently Google kicked the site off its AdSense platform and forces Noah and sanctuarycounties.com to adopt the Patreon model.
I had a chance to sit down and talk to Noah about the site and his work to maintain the database.
John: Why did you start sanctuarycounties.com?
Noah: When the Democrats took power in Virginia, many law-abiding gun owners like myself were shocked at the types of gun control legislation that they immediately began proposing. I was afraid of becoming a criminal for doing nothing more than exercising my Second Amendment rights to protect myself and my family and began looking for ways that I could get involved and fight back politically.
I stumbled upon a group on Facebook that was promoting something called a “Second Amendment Sanctuary.” It was a private group, and I requested to join and was soon accepted. It was in this group that I met thousands of other Second Amendment supporters in Virginia who were looking for ways that they could fight back. The Second Amendment Sanctuary concept encouraged us to take our fight to our county and city governments since we had clearly lost power at the state level. So, we began sharing information about upcoming board meetings and sharing copies of resolutions that were passed in different counties.
Due to the group being “private,” it was very difficult for people to actually get the information out of the group to spread it to a wider audience. I initially started sanctuarycounties.com as a means to assist my fellow Virginians in sharing information about these upcoming county board meetings. I would monitor the group, and when I saw information about a board meeting, I would create an article on the site with the meeting info and then share a link in the group so people could use that as a means of getting the info out to their friends, family, and neighbors.
By coordinating with one another and disseminating pertinent information, we were able to create massive turnouts at these board meetings. In county after county, we showed up to county courts, auditoriums, and other venues in our hundreds and our thousands. We came with our American flags and our Guns Save Lives stickers, and we spoke in support of these resolutions. We let them know in no uncertain terms that we would not have our Second Amendment rights stripped away from ourselves or our posterity. In a matter of months, more than 95% of the counties in Virginia were Second Amendment Sanctuaries.
John: How did Glenn Beck find your site?
Noah: I wish I could tell you how Glenn Beck found out about our website. The answer is that I truly do not know. However, I have been archiving the Second Amendment Sanctuary movement for more than a year now, so it may be that someone on his staff finally decided to take one of my maps to the big guy and show him that this movement never actually stopped after Virginia. In fact, it has grown dramatically.
Glenn Beck, along with others like Cam Edwards, has been quoting a number that I originally saw in an article from The Trace, which stated that there are 400 municipalities in 20 states that have passed Second Amendment Sanctuary resolutions. However, that article is well over a year old now, and the number is actually closer to 1,200 counties now.
In my National Second Amendment Sanctuary Map for March 021, I have documented more than 1,188 counties that are Second Amendment Sanctuaries due to legislation passed at the state level or resolutions, ordinances, preservation acts, or other declarations at the county level. I even created a Second Amendment Sanctuary spreadsheet that lists every county in the United States and includes dates and links to all the articles on my site that document the passage of these local declarations. I would encourage Mr. Beck to share the updated map and the spreadsheet so that people can see just how far beyond 400 municipalities the movement has progressed.
John: Do you think these localities are making a difference?
Noah: I do believe that these localities are making a difference. As I like to tell people, there are certain levels at which we can exert our influence. Some of us are in various ways connected to people in power at state and federal levels or have platforms large enough to sway those individuals on matters of importance. Others, like myself, do not have such connections and may find ourselves wondering how we can even hope to have any impact whatsoever.
In my article, “How to become a Sanctuary County,” the general theme I attempt to convey is that while state senators, governors, congressmen o,r even presidents may be outside the sphere of influence of normal American citizens, that does not mean that we have no sphere of influence at all. We are not without recourse at local levels.
We must all get involved in local politics and engage our local governments. I may not be able to meet with the Attorney General, but I can meet with my County Attorney. I may not be able to meet with the Governor, but I can talk to the Chairman of the County Board of Commissioners. I can talk to my Sheriff and various other individuals within the local government and encourage them to support a resolution or ordinance in support of the Second Amendment.
One of the common arguments that I hear from individuals on county boards that do not wish to get involved in this Second Amendment Sanctuary movement is that it is just “symbolic.” My response to that is that, while this may be true in some cases, even symbols have power. Take a look at some of these Second Amendment Sanctuary State Maps, and you will see what kind of power a symbol can have.
These maps are symbols, and the counties that are highlighted in these maps represent the will of the citizens all across these states. These are the types of symbols that let politicians know where their voters stand and illuminate the political costs of not standing up for the Second Amendment. Though we may be taking political action at local levels, we can have state-level effects when our conservative counties begin acting in concert with one another.
John: Is it just about guns?
Noah: There was a time when this movement was only about guns. That time ended in March of last year. The Sanctuary Movement began as a push back against the Democrat’s attempts to strip us of our Second Amendment rights. How little did we realize just how many of our rights would soon be at risk? As our nation was struck by a novel virus from China, many tyrants across the country took it upon themselves to strip us of so many of the rights we used to hold dear.
Our freedom to peaceably assemble in support of Second Amendment Sanctuaries was one of the first to go. County board members used the threat of a pandemic to shut down 2A Sanctuary meetings or move them to Zoom calls, lessening the impact of showing up with thousands of fellow 2A supporters, getting petitions signed, registering voters, etc. Our freedom of religion was also under fire. Churches were forced to close their doors. Even drive-through church services were attacked.
Businesses were among the worst impacted. Social distancing, mask-wearing, curfews, health mandates, and various determinations of whose business was or was not essential and arbitrary capacity percentages were foisted upon people who were simply trying to earn a living.
Upon seeing the sheer scope of the power-grab from various governors, school boards, mayors, and other mini tyrants across the country, many of the County Boards that were considering Second Amendment Sanctuary resolutions began debating and passing “Constitutional Sanctuary” or “Bill of Rights Sanctuary” resolutions and ordinances.
Campbell County, Virginia, passed a First Amendment Sanctuary resolution. There are at least 23 Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn in Texas. Multiple counties and cities have passed Business Sanctuary resolutions. We have even seen Health Mandate and Vaccine Mandate Sanctuaries. More recently, Georgia’s Governor Brian Kemp has been promoting a Sanctuary for People of Faith, which would prevent churches from being shut down in the future as a result of a pandemic. Clearly, the original Second Amendment Sanctuary concept has been adapted from its original intent and is now being used to support other conservative values and ideals.
John: What do you think about states passing Second Amendment Protection Acts?
Noah: I am wholeheartedly in favor of the states that are finally taking it upon themselves to pass Second Amendment Protection Acts at the state level. One of the reasons that I worked so hard on creating and publishing Second Amendment Sanctuary State Maps was to provide members of these state legislatures with “ammunition” to make the case that this is something that their constituents across the state actually desire. If members of the state legislature were to look at the state maps for their state and see that a large percentage of the counties in the state have already passed county-level Second Amendment Sanctuary declarations, then it is easier for them to justify it. This concept also applies when a bill makes it to the Governor’s desk for signature.
John: Is it hard keeping up with the changes?
Noah: It is very difficult to keep up with the sheer volume of new sanctuaries lately. I do this in my spare time, so staying up to date with all the counties passing these declarations is a lot of work. This issue has only compounded since counties started taking it upon themselves to come up with new and unique applications for the Sanctuary County model. Sanctuarycounties.com is an archive, and it takes research to create an article for the site. I try to get copies of resolutions and ordinances to include in each article.
Then a county like Rio Blanco County, Colorado, comes up with a “Wolf Reintroduction Sanctuary County,” and it just adds more work to be done. I don’t mind doing the work, as it means that the movement is progressing, but it is a lot for one person. However, due to the speed at which new counties and new sanctuaries are coming along these days, I actually had to create a new website to keep up. Modeled on the bonginoreport.com website, constitutionalsanctuaries.com acts as a front page for the Constitutional Sanctuary movement. I use the site to share links to all the new Sanctuary stories as they get published, and I can get around to archiving them whenever I get the time.
John: How often is the site updated?
Noah: I try to update sanctuarycounties.com multiple times per week. The frequency of updates is subject to whether or not new counties have passed resolutions, though, so there may be a week or two in between updates if nothing has passed recently.
John: Google pulled all your ads. How has that affected the funding for your site?
Noah: Shortly after Glenn Beck featured my National Second Amendment Sanctuary Map on his show, my traffic spiked dramatically. At one point, there were more than 1,000 people on the site at the same time, according to Google Analytics. Very soon thereafter, Google decided to pull all of the ads off of my website due to what they call “invalid traffic.” There is no person for me to speak to at Google as the only recourse they offer is for me to search for information in the AdSense forums. As a minority / disabled military Veteran-owned small business, it is rather frustrating that Google would pull my advertising revenue with no notice and no recourse. This has had a dramatic impact on my site’s funding, effectively reducing it to zero.
I always tell people that I am not doing this for the money, what little of it there has been thus far. I had planned to use that funding to procure better servers, access stock graphics, acquire graphic design software, pay bookkeepers, accountants, etc. It was my intention to simply cover the costs incurred in the regular course of operating a web-based business. Unfortunately, Google took that away from me, and I may have to come out of my pocket to cover the costs.
John: Are there plans to expand the site?
Noah: At this point, I am somewhat limited in time and funding. However, if I can ever get the funding back for the site, I may be able to hire people to help reduce the amount of time that I personally have to commit to research, web development, and graphic design so that I can work on various efforts to expand the site. One area that I would like to work on is building out interactive maps that allow you to click on various regions to be taken to the associated articles for various municipalities. I would also like to do more work on user experience design to create more understandable navigation paths to help visitors to get to the information they are searching for in fewer steps.
Additionally, I want to build out new pages or even subdomains to better organize information about the various different types of sanctuaries that have been passed. I would like to create a rating system for these resolutions and ordinances so that when people are scrolling through the hundreds of resolutions I have on the site, they can easily pick out the ones that they might want to propose to their county boards.
John: How can people help your mission?
Noah: There are many ways that people can help me in my mission. First, if you have some spare money and would like to support the Second Amendment Sanctuary Movement, please consider contributing to my Patreon, https://www.patreon.com/sanctuarycounties. At the moment, this is the only form of funding that I have for the site, so any contribution that you can make there will be greatly appreciated. So you know, if you contribute at the $20 level, you can sponsor your own county on the website, $50 will allow you to sponsor your state’s Second Amendment Sanctuary Map, and the $100 level or above allows you to sponsor the National Second Amendment Sanctuary Map. However, any contribution at any level will be greatly appreciated.
Secondly, if you have time to devote to this cause, I am always willing to welcome volunteers. One thing that I badly need help with is research. If you are willing to help track down resolutions and ordinances from various county websites or even call up county clerks and commissioners to ask for a copy of the resolutions, that would be a tremendous help. The less time that I have to spend on research, the more I can spend that time on creating content.
Finally, if your county has passed a Second Amendment Sanctuary resolution, please let me know. I try my best to keep up with everything, but sometimes a county slips through the cracks. This is especially true if no newspaper writes a story about it. So, if you know that your county has recently passed a resolution or ordinance, just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know. If you can include a signed copy of the resolution or ordinance as well as the vote count, that would be greatly appreciated.
Learn more at https://sanctuarycounties.com/
About John Crump
John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, or at www.crumpy.com.