WHITE TOWNSHIP, NJ (Warren County) – Expressing their intent to uphold the Second Amendment rights of the citizens of Warren County, the Board of Chosen Freeholders this week unanimously passed a resolution declaring Warren a “Second Amendment / Lawful Gun Owner County.”
The freeholder board “desires to express its deep commitment to the rights of citizens of Warren County to keep and bear Arms,” the resolution stated, and opposes “any efforts to unconstitutionally restrict such rights.”
A standing-room-only crowd offered comments both for and against the resolution for more than an hour before all three freeholders explained their support for the measure and voted.
“We’ve had some really great back and forth,” Freeholder Jason J. Sarnoski said of the discussion, adding that, “From the bottom of my heart, I really do want to thank everyone for their decorum. The level of discourse that we rise to here, in my opinion goes far above what we’ve seen in other locations.”
Sarnoski said he had the utmost respect for all who expressed their views, no matter what side of the issue they took. However, Sarnoski said he is seeing greater restrictions being placed on gun ownership and added that the resolution “reflects my feelings on the rights of legal gun owners.”
Noting that his father was in law enforcement for 35 years, Sarnoski explained, “I’m the son of a police officer. He taught me how to handle a gun, and he taught me a gun owner has great responsibilities, but they also have rights, and that’s what makes this country great.” Citizens in the United States have the right to own firearms, but in many countries, “people don’t have that right,” he said.
Some of those who spoke questioned why the freeholder board wanted to pass such a resolution, but Sarnoski explained, “This is the process we have in this country when we disagree with our leadership. We don’t say we’re not going to follow the law, we don’t say we’re going to break the law, we say we’re going to address the laws we don’t agree with through petition. I don’t believe this board is wasting time or money by petitioning our government on our beliefs.”
Freeholder James R. Kern, III echoed Sarnoski’s praise for the way the speakers participated in the discussion, and continued that Warren County, with its comparatively low crime rate, “is a very safe place to live.”
New Jersey has some of the strictest gun laws in America, Kern said, but added he thinks some politicians are trying to pass laws just for the headlines and not because they have any positive effect.
“This is our way of symbolically telling Trenton, (and) our legislators, how we feel as a county,” Kern said.
Freeholder Director Richard D. Gardner also said he supports the resolution to make a statement, saying that firearms restrictions considered at the state level mean “the law-abiding citizen in this state is now forfeiting his rights. That’s not acceptable.”
Pointing to areas that have tough gun laws but high crime, Gardner said politicians should “stop putting forth feel-good measures that do not accomplish anything for society.” Gardner added that he feels the governor and some members of the legislature “are wrong-headed on this matter” and wasting time instead of addressing core issues that contribute to gun violence, like mental illness.
“At least 75 percent of those who spoke were in favor of the board taking this stance,” Gardner said.