I have had some time to organize my thoughts since last Tuesday’s meeting of the Haywood County Commission and our progress to date, and would like to share them with you. These are my thoughts and mine alone. No one is asked to agree with me, nor am I attempting to tell others what they should think. I welcome reasoned and respectful discussion with anyone regarding the following.
Did We Succeed?
My answer would be an unqualified “yes”. My hope for Tuesday’s meeting was that we get the attention of the Commissioners, and we clearly did that. I am sure that some of you hoped for more, which leads me to my next topic…
I am pretty sure that except in the case of emergency, the Commission cannot act on an item that is not on the agenda. While we might find this frustrating, it really is for our protection. We must be told in advance of actions the Commissioners plan to take, so that we can participate in the process and make our voices heard before action is taken. For this reason, I didn’t expect we’d get a resolution passed last Tuesday night.
Having watched the Commission act on other issues in the past, I would expect the issue to be discussed at two or three Commission meetings before significant action is taken. Hopefully, the Commission might restrict action on our issue to their evening meetings, so that more of us can attend and be heard.
In any case, it is a process that doesn’t happen quickly. If we are to prevail, we must remain engaged.
What would a resolution do?
That depends on just how it is worded. It might be purely symbolic, and affirm the Second Amendment rights of the people of Haywood County.
Other counties have gone further, stating in their resolutions that no county resources shall be used to abridge the Second Amendment rights of citizens.
Ours might turn out like one of the two above, or somewhere in between. Or we might not get one at all. But we get nothing if we give up.
If we get a resolution, even if it merely symbolic, it sends a message to Raleigh that is helpful to legislators sympathetic to our cause.
General observation: There seems to a disconnect in some cases between the statements of Commissioners published in Smoky Mountain News on January 7 and their positions stated at the Commission meeting on Tuesday. My overall feeling is that they want us to think they have been working on this issue, but I see little evidence that is in fact the case. Had they indeed been working on the issue, I suspect they would have answered differently when asked specifically about the Second Amendment Sanctuary issue.
Here are my observations on the Commissioners, with the most favorable ones first and least favorable ones last.
Commissioner Rogers had the most clear and concise comments on the issue at the January 21 meeting. I believe he merely chose poorly when answering the question posed by Smoky Mountain News, by not being specific enough. It is clear to me that Commissioner Rogers supports some sort of resolution, whether specific to our Second Amendment rights, or more general and covering all of our Constitutional rights.
Commissioner Long opined that it might be best to draft a resolution affirming all of the Constitutional Rights of the people of Haywood County, rather than just Second Amendment rights. He seems to have a good rationale in support of this, and it appeared that Commissioner Rogers agreed with him. Sadly Commissioner Long spoke for so long that by the time he was done it was hard to tell exactly where he stood.
I am surprised to be placing Commissioner Kirkpatrick at the middle of the pack. He promised to carefully consider the issue, which is really all that any of us can expect. Additionally, I found his comments regarding the societal conditions that cause us to seek a Second Amendment Sanctuary to be insightful.
Had it not been for the performance of the next person on this list, Chairman Ensley would have wound up at the bottom of the list. He insulted the majority of attendees by claiming that we were there because of “fake news” we had seen on Facebook. And yet he claims he doesn’t even use Facebook! So how could he possibly know what we might have seen there?
Chairman Ensley also presumed to tell us how we should best spend our energies protecting our Second Amendment rights. I am a NRA Life Member and support the NRA to the extent that I can, but they aren’t the only game in town. And I know that when it comes to influencing local government, a group of dedicated citizens is far more powerful than any national organization.
This is the hardest part of this article to write, because it’s already raising my blood pressure, and I want to keep this objective and professional.
In my opinion, Commissioner Pless made a huge mistake by reacting with such anger and by saying things like “I didn’t sign up for this”. Yes sir, you did. If you can’t handle a persistent activist constituent without losing your cool, perhaps you shouldn’t be in office.
If Commissioner Pless, in his heart of hearts, knows that it was wrong to have sent that email, he would have, in my opinion, been better served by saying: “it was wrong of me to send that email, and I apologize”. He would have earned some respect from me, and I suspect also from quite a few others.
If Commissioner Pless thinks it was right to send that email, then in my opinion he is not suited for public office, and should resign his seat.
In any case, I found Commissioner Pless’s demonstrated anger to be completely inappropriate for a public official at any level of government. Video of his comments regarding his email to Eddie Cabe can be seen at the end of this post.
Commissioner Pless, like Chairman Ensley, also insulted most attendees by claiming that we were only there because we had been lied to, on Facebook and elsewhere. I found that highly offensive. As a Facebook user, Commissioner Pless has far less excuse for making such and absurd claim.
Yes, I spent a lot of effort getting people to show up at the January 21 meeting, as did many others. I didn’t tell anyone that the Haywood County Commission wanted to take our guns, and I know of no one else who did so.
To use a military analogy, we haven’t yet won the war, but we did very well in the first battle.
Effort and engagement on our part does not guarantee success. Nothing will. But disengagement and lack of effort does guarantee failure.
Commissioner Pless explains his email suggesting that a citizen move to another county.