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Johnston commissioners defend gun rights

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SMITHFIELD — Ted Godwin, chairman of the Johnston County Board of Commissioners, likes to quote Ronald Reagan.

“Those that would forgo freedom for security or peace will achieve neither one and deserve neither one,” Godwin said Feb. 3 evening to a crowd that spilled from the commissioners’ meeting room to the hallway outside.

Godwin then quoted a letter to the editor that a 15-year-old high school sophomore penned to the News & Observer in Raleigh. “There’s a point where America’s freedoms have the be restricted for the safety of citizens,” he read.

Godwin clearly disagreed. “That flies totally in the face of what Ronald Reagan said,” he said before acknowledging Founding Father Benjamin Franklin, who coined the original version of Reagan’s quote.

Godwin’s audience last week had come to see whether commissioners would stand up for the Second Amendment rights of Johnstonians. They didn’t disappoint, passing a resolution that Commissioner Patrick Harris read aloud for the dozens of people in attendance.

“The Johnston County Board of Commissioners wishes to express its intent to stand unified in total support for Second Amendment rights and to oppose ... any efforts to unconstitutionally restrict such rights and to use such legals means at its disposal to protect the rights of citizens to keep and bear arms,” the resolution states.

The resolution, which passed without dissent, says Johnstonians should not have to surrender their gun rights because some people choose to break the law. “The criminal misuse of firearms is not a reason to infringe the rights of law-abiding of Johnston County,” the resolution states.

The constitutions of the United States and North Carolina guarantee the right to keep and bear arms, the resolution notes. Commissioners support that right and will defend it, the resolution states.

“The Johnston County Board of Commissioners wishes to express its deep commitment to the rights of all citizens of Johnston County to keep and bear arms,” the resolution states. Johnston County government “will utilize all legal means necessary to protect the Second Amendment rights of Johnston County citizens,” it adds.

Darryl Mitchell, chairman of the Johnston County Republican Party, was the lone speaker from the large crowd of gun-rights supporters. “It’s a sad that we’re even here, that we have to pass a resolution to protect our Second Amendment rights,” Mitchell said, bristling at efforts elsewhere in America to curb gun rights.

He noted that Wake County commissioners wouldn’t even let a Second Amendment resolution come before the board, and he said Virginia voters had elected a Democratic governor and legislature committed to curbing gun rights.

“I’m very thankful we have leaders right here that are willing to stand up and be accounted for and protect our rights as county residents, and they should be applauded for that,” Mitchell said. “And we appreciate that.”

And he encouraged the large crowd behind him to protect their gun rights by exercising their right to vote. “Vote your conscience, vote what is right, and then these things will not happen,” Mitchell said, referring to efforts to curb gun rights.

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