A petition sponsored by pro-second amendment group Kentucky United has begun circulating in Knox County. The Knox chapter of the group is looking for 5,000 signatures before presenting it to the Fiscal Court. The goal is to dub Knox County a “second amendment sanctuary.”
The idea behind the sanctuary movement is that local officials will refuse to comply with or enforce new gun control measures; the specifics vary from county to county. The push for such resolutions started after new gun legislation was introduced in Virginia where many counties have passed the measures. Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring has said the resolutions have no “legal effect.” Senator Robert Stivers believes the measures are unnecessary, ‘what’s happening in Virginia won’t happen in Kentucky,” he said.
Red Flag laws are a major issue raised by Kentucky United. Red Flag laws allow certain people to report others as being dangerous which can lead to them having to turn in their guns. Scot Clouse, leader of the Knox County chapter of Kentucky United, said he supports Red Flag laws if they are done “properly.” Clouse believes, for example, that a doctor should be one person who can report someone as a potential hazard. Red Flag laws vary widely in regard to who can report someone and have varying degrees of consequences for false reports.
A Red Flag law was proposed in August in Kentucky by two Republicans and one Democrat. President Trump has also voiced support for the law in the past. Former Governor Matt Bevin spoke against the bipartisan bill, but newly elected Governor Andy Beshear has expressed support. 17 states and Washington D.C. currently have such laws on the books.
Clouse was reluctant to take the leadership position or the Knox County chapter, “I knew it’d be a lot of work,” he said. Clouse already runs three businesses but tool the job because of his strong beliefs in the second amendment. While he supports some gun control, he worries some new bills may go to far. “You might have to give up some family heirlooms,” he said referring to old guns he owns passed down from his grandfather.
Kentucky United’s goal is “educating people about these laws,” Clouse said. The group has attracted some negative attention with members posting far-right conspiracies to the state group. This has prompted a crackdown by leadership on their Facebook page. Clouse works hard to maintain civility on the Knox County page and doesn’t want extreme views to harm the groups progress.
The Knox County petition went live on Change.org around Christmas.
Clouse plans a large push soon including going door-to-door. “We haven’t got to do a lot yet but we want to cover all of Knox County,” he stated.