MOORESVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — The town of Mooresville declared itself both a First and Second Amendment sanctuary town and a place against cancel culture, but legal experts have doubts about what it actually does.
“This is just a product of a political environment where conservatives feel that free speech and Second Amendment rights are under assault. This is intended to make them feel better,” said Steve Sanders, a Constitutional law professor at the Maurer School of Law at IU Bloomington.
In a divided vote, the council voted to be a sanctuary town for both the First and Second amendments Tuesday night.
It’s the first town in Indiana to do so, though about 1/3rd of Indiana counties have made a similar declaration about the Second Amendment at this time.
Town councilman Shane Williams spearheaded the resolutions.
One states Mooresville will be a Second Amendment Sanctuary and will oppose any public funds being used to infringe on the constitutional guarantee to keep and bear arms. The other states Mooresville will be a First Amendment Sanctuary and opposes government actions to curtail religious liberties and promote cancel culture, specifically in reference to the pandemic.
“I get tired of the solution to gun violence being punishing innocent law-abiding gun owners. I think it’s wrong. It doesn’t solve a single amount of crime,” Williams said.
It led to a rousing discussion from members of the audience, even a show of hands, with most people in favor, as other councilmen probed to determine what would happen if the resolutions were passed.
The town’s legal counsel advised they have no effect on the police department and no effect on state statutes like the red flag law.
“I don’t know anytime anyone has had their free speech taken away from them,” said Councilman Tom Warthen.
“If it’s grandstanding, I’m happy to grandstand,” Williams said. “I take your rights seriously, I take my oath seriously. I have no problem reaffirming that oath through a resolution.”
Sanders makes a similar assessment.
“I read them more as political blowing off steam as a political statements,” Sanders said. “That’s fine. The town government is entitled to express its opinion on pretty much anything.”
But as Second Amendment Sanctuary cities and counties continue to grow as a movement around the country, he worries that citizens may think it means a lot more than it really does.
“My biggest concern would be this might make citizens of Mooresville wrongly believe that they don’t have to comply with masks or other requirements Walmart or their churches might impose,” Sanders said.
In the end, the vote was 4 to 1.
WISH-TV asked the State Attorney General’s office for comment Tuesday afternoon but have not heard back.
We also reached out to the Indiana Chapter of Moms Demand Action which released this statement:
The vast majority of Americans support common-sense gun laws that can keep our families safe. Instead of passing political resolutions that undermine public safety and confuse law enforcement, our leaders should focus on solutions to prevent gun violence in Indiana.