Guntersville, Alabama Mayor Leigh Dollar had proposed a change to the emergency ordinances of that city that would have allowed law enforcement to disarm residents. Mayor Dollar said it was to protect officers in the aftermath of an emergency such as the 2011 tornadoes.
While most of the ordinance was sensible and provided for the mayor to act without council in the aftermath of a disaster, it was the sixth of seven sections that caused the uproar. That was the section that allowed any law enforcement officer to disarm residents for the protection of the officer or other individuals. If someone was brandishing a firearm in an unsafe or threatening manner, Alabama law already gave an officer the authority to disarm them – and to arrest them.
I think Mayor Dollar was genuinely surprised by the outpouring of opposition to the ordinance caused by that section of the law. She quickly issued a statement saying her intent was not to disarm people and undermine the Second Amendment.
“As Mayor, I can say there is absolutely no intent to undermine the right to bear arms. I live
in a house full of hunters and I am a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment, as are all
members of the City Council.
“The City’s intent was never to ‘disarm our citizens or seize firearms’. The purpose is for the
City to be able to respond in a timely manner in the event of a disaster which we hope never
happens. However, after April 27, 2011, we know what can easily become a reality.
“The entire proposed local ordinance follows the state emergency ordinance, and the section
related to firearms follows existing state statutes. That section was included so public
workers and volunteers helping during a state of emergency are protected from someone
causing harm or potentially causing harm. In no way is this ordinance trying to infringe upon
anyone’s constitutional rights.”
Yesterday, the Guntersville City Council had a special meeting and voted to withdraw the ordinance in its entirety from consideration. The whole meeting lasted probably less than five minutes. According to one report, Mayor Dollar said “This entire council is a strong proponent of the Second Amendment. We all own guns.”
We in my home state of North Carolina had to go to US District Court to secure our right to be armed in defense of home and family during an emergency. So I am pleased Mayor Dollar and the Guntersville Council did the right thing when they realized the magnitude of their actions. If this story has a moral, it is that about the power of social media to alert and activate opposition to threats to our rights. It doesn’t always work but in this case it succeeded beautifully.