This isn’t the first place such an idea has been put forward, but it may be one of the more surprising locations to see it crop up. We’ve seen a number of places where rural areas have passed “sanctuary” resolutions to protect Second Amendment rights. There are currently more than 25 counties in western Illinois which have established such policies. But these tend to be rural areas, composed of counties or large townships. Cities tend to be more liberal and don’t generally dabble in such things.

That may be about to change in Washington state. While not a major metropolis, the city of Republic, Washington has a police chief who is refusing to enforce new state gun restrictions and a mayor who is backing him up. They may be heading toward an official “sanctuary city” status for gun rights. (Washington Times)

The city of Republic in Washington state is mulling legislation that would shield residents from state gun control laws that were approved by voters last week.

Republic Mayor Elbert Koontz said the Republic City Council will begin discussing the idea of becoming a “sanctuary city” to protect residents against Initiative 1639, which goes into effect Jan. 1, The Spokesman-Review reported.

The sweeping gun-control measure includes raising the age limit for buying semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21 and requiring buyers of those weapons to pass an enhanced background check, show proof of firearms-training and complete a 10-day waiting period before obtaining the weapon.

Their police chief wasn’t waiting around for any new legislation to pass. He already announced, “The second amendment says the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. As long as I am Chief of Police, no Republic Police Officer will infringe on a citizens right to keep and Bear Arms, PERIOD!”

In a way, it’s sort of a shame that it has to come to this. When a state passes laws, they’re supposed to apply to the entire state. (Unless the state has “charter cities” under the state constitution as California does.) But what do you do when the state begins passing laws which seem to clearly abridge the Second Amendment rights of the citizens or when the laws conflict with federal law? The entire concept of supremacy sort of goes out the window at that point.

Much of this comes back to the rather shameful way that the courts have historically treated the right to keep and bear arms as sort of a “second-class amendment.” The Second Amendment was never considered to be fully wrapped up in the incorporation doctrine until the 2010 decision in McDonald v. Chicago, and even now it frequently gets short shrift in the courts. But if cities and counties can somehow legally declare themselves immune to federal law when it comes to immigration, how are they to argue that other municipalities can’t make the same claim about gun laws?

Either Illinois or Washington will likely wind up in court sooner or later as these gun rights cities and counties are challenged. It should be interesting to see how those states craft their arguments against these local government entities while still reserving the right to have sanctuary cities for illegal immigrants.