If you’ve driven by the Wasatch County Administration Building on Main Street in recent weeks you may have seen a bunch of people holding signs, and flourishing American Flags while waving at passersby; perhaps you wondered, “What in the world is going on over there?” The answer would be – a lot!
Defending Wasatch Back began as a group of moms sharing their concerns while at different events with their children. As they told two friends, and they told two friends, the word got out and soon there were citizens from all over Wasatch County joining them.
Cheryl Karl, one of the two founders of Defending Wasatch Back, shared that they started holding Monday rallies in front of the Wasatch County Administration building as a way for people to express their concerns to the public and County Council. “We asked people to leave their president flags supporting whoever they were voting for at home. We said no Trump flags, no Biden flags. This is just an American thing. We asked that members of the community bring their American flags, and any signs supporting whatever they felt strongly about.”
The group meets every Monday during the general County Council meetings to offer support for those presenting before the council; they ask for cars to honk, as a reminder that the people of Wasatch County are here, want to be represented, and involved in decision-making processes. The goal of Defending Wasatch Back is, “. . . to gather like-minded people who are willing to take action.” Cheryl shared that, “We don’t want to sit around just shaking our heads, saying someone should do something, [we] want to make sure that people who join us are willing to write emails, got to rallies, go to peaceful protests, do something about the problem; not just shake their heads.”
Currently, Defending Wasatch Back has combined forces with the Wasatch 2A Sanctuary group in support of making Wasatch County a Second Amendment Sanctuary. What does that mean? In a nutshell, a Second Amendment sanctuary is a state, county, or locality in the United States that has adopted laws or resolutions that oppose the enforcement of certain gun control measures. As of March 1, 2021, sanctuarycounties.com reports that there are 1,188 2A sanctuary counties, either through resolutions or ordinances, across more than 20 states. Noah Davis states on their site, “As politicians attempt to use tragedies to take rights away from law-abiding citizens, more than 37% of U.S. counties have been declared Second Amendment Sanctuaries. The Second Amendment Sanctuary Movement has kicked into high gear since the election and shows no signs of slowing down.” In Utah, Uinta County was the first to become a 2A Sanctuary county, followed by several others like; Utah, Wayne, and Weber, just to name a few.
Gary Hughes a member of both Defending Wasatch Back and Wasatch 2A Sanctuary explained, “What the whole Second Amendment Sanctuary Movement is about, nationally, is sending a message to Washington that the Second Amendment is still important to us, we still want it, we still need it, and we’re not going to tolerate infringement of it. It’s a way for citizens of Wasatch County who largely feel ignored by their representatives at the federal level – their congressmen and senators – to be heard.”
In August of 2020, Sandra Hughes and Ryan Hobbs started the Wasatch 2A Sanctuary group and approached City Council regarding Wasatch County adopting and putting into place a 2A ordinance. According to Sandra, the meeting went really well, there was no opposition from anyone present, and they were asked to put together a committee of council members and citizens. She explained that “the purpose of the committee is not to decide whether or not there should be a 2A ordinance – that is for the vote. The purpose of the committee is to decide on the verbiage of the ordinance.” Kendall Crittenden is the head of the committee and has worked closely with Sherriff Rigby, Mark Nelson – the County Attorney’s Representative, and committee members to create a draft that will be presented and read to the public during the County Council’s general meeting on Wednesday, April 21st at 3:00 pm. You can jump onto Wasatch County’s site: https://docs.wasatch.utah.gov/OnBaseAgendaOnline/Meetings/ViewMeeting and download a PDF of the proposed ordinance.
Gary explained the difference between an Ordinance and a Resolution and why the wording of the document put forth for a vote is important. An Ordinance has the force and effect of a law whereas a resolution is simply a formal expression of an opinion and holds no weight. There are a lot of misconceptions out there as to what the 2A ordinance would do. Many people believe it is a way to try and get around state gun laws. That is not true. Hughes describes it quite succinctly, “As Sherriff Rigby, and the citizen’s committee has written it. The ordinance prevents county money from being spent in any enforcement of federal law as it pertains to the Second Amendment. It also prevents the county in the future from entering into a written agreement with any federal agency to do that same thing. That’s it.” He continued by stating “The ordinance also states that this does not preclude the Sherriff’s office from enforcing state law in any form. So every state-level gun law is enforceable and will be enforced by the Sherriff’s office. There is no one; the Sherriff’s office, the county, the committee, anyone that does not want people who commit a crime with a gun to be prosecuted. What we don’t want is for people to become criminals simply because they own a gun. The ordinance is clearly written with the direction of the Sherriff to specifically included state enforcement and prosecution of anyone who violates the law and uses a firearm in a criminal matter.”
So what does all this have to do with what is going on in front of the administration building? Well . . . in defense of protecting the Second Amendment, and adding their support for Wasatch County to become a 2A Sanctuary, Defending Wasatch Back has been encouraging citizens to join their rallies, and educate themselves on the matter. Cheryl stated that when Sherriff Rigby was asked, “When was the last time you saw 100 moms standing outside Main Street on a Monday to fight for their gun rights. He said, ‘I’ve never seen this in my entire life.'” Sandra shared that, “. . . having the group out front rallying for us or just demonstrating their support, made me bolder as I went into the meetings,” and Gary, who’s been involved in the gun right fight for nearly 30 years, stated, “I’ve never seen a group of men willing to go out and do something about their rights and individual liberties, as these women are. So, you might say I’m a fan!”
For those who are not fans – that’s okay too! The world would be a boring place if we all thought the same. Having the privilege of living in a free country though takes work and right now, regardless of individual convictions, no one can deny that our freedoms are under attack. It is important to protect the rights of all and we do that by protecting the Second Amendment which protects the First. If the Second Amendment falls the Bill of Rights and the Constitution will follow. It is up to all of us, as citizens of the United State of America, and as citizens of Wasatch County to bring our differing opinions to the table and come to unifying agreements (even if that means agreeing to disagree) through respectful, free, and open debate.
Hughes, I believe says it best, “I think that people who oppose this, you know they think that we’re a bunch of antigovernment wackjobs, that we’re militia people, that we’re domestic terrorists. You know all these things that the media has labeled anyone who doesn’t agree with [their narrative] . . . people have been conditioned to dehumanize us. . . I mean it’s scary . . . all we are asking for with this ordinance is for the county to tell the world that we won’t participate in this. And that we believe in the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment is for everyone! It’s for the left, it’s for the right, it’s for brown people, it’s for white people, it’s for gays, it’s for straights, transgendered, it’s for everybody. The Bill of Rights is universal. It’s not selective. I want to protect all people’s rights just as much as my own. I’ve always kind of taken this position in my life that if I allow the government to do something to someone just because I disagree with them, then they’re going to do it to me too. And I don’t want that. I’ll stand up for those causes, but for some reason, we’ve been conditioned to think that every infringement is okay as long as it’s for guns, and that’s really a sad thing. I wouldn’t dream of taking someone’s First Amendment rights. That seems to be the domain of other people, the silencing of other’s opinions and all that, I find it amazing that some people consider the Second Amendment or the Bill of Rights a divisive issue because it’s not to me – it’s a universal right – it’s for everyone.”
Join other community members this Wednesday, April 21st at 3:00 pm at the Wasatch County Administration Building, 25 N Main Street Heber City, to learn more about Wasatch County becoming a 2A sanctuary and to have your voice be heard. After all in Cheryl’s words, “When we say that someone has to do something, that person is me, and you, and everyone around us, we have to look in the mirror and say no one is going to do this for us. We have to do it!”
Interested in learning more? Visit the following: Wasatch County 2A Sanctuary Facebook page, Utah Business Revival Facebook Page, www.takeactionforfreedom.com, www.sanctuarycounties.com, and www.defendingutah.com. You can also join one of over 50 Thursday groups that meet, every Thursday all over the state to talk about concerns. Information for these groups can be found on several of the above sites.