Sandy Hickerson

Sandy Hickerson, center, of Absecon, represents a group asking the Atlantic County freeholders to pass a resolution making Atlantic County a Second Amendment Sanctuary county.

NORTHFIELD — Freeholders are weighing all of their options before determining whether they should approve a resolution to make Atlantic County a Second Amendment sanctuary.

“Once we receive information back from our solicitor, we will make a decision whether to move forward with the resolution,” Freeholder Ernest Coursey, a Democrat, said at a meeting Tuesday. “We have received a multitude of letters. We take it seriously and appreciate your concerns and comments.”

Coursey said the freeholders’ Public Safety Committee, which he chairs, met to discuss the request. Cape May County freeholders recently passed a similar resolution, as did Egg Harbor Township Committee on Wednesday night.

Sandy Hickerson, of Absecon, is the organizer of the Atlantic County 2A Sanctuary group, which is seeking the resolution.

There are similar groups in most counties in the state, she has said, and they are part of a national group fighting what they say are increasing restrictions on legal gun ownership.

Similar groups protested against restrictive gun legislation in Richmond, Virginia, a couple weeks ago. In general, they argue restrictions on gun sales and ownership harm legal gun owners and do nothing to curb the use of guns by gangs and other criminals.

Hickerson attended Tuesday’s meeting with about 15 members of her group, after about 50 members attended a freeholder meeting two weeks ago to introduce the freeholders to the idea of the resolution.

“On behalf of the New Jersey Second Amendment Sanctuary movement, thank you and the Public Safety Committee for doing your homework and doing what you said you would do,” Hickerson said Tuesday.

Hickerson said she had forwarded information to freeholders about 44 bills pending in the New Jersey Legislature that would interfere with legal gun ownership, including one to raise the legal age for purchasing guns from 18 to 21. The group is seeking freeholder help in opposing some of those bills.

Freeholder Chairman Frank Formica reminisced about being allowed to take a hunting rifle with him to school and leave it in his locker when he was a student at Holy Spirit High School in the 1960s.

Sandra Russo, of Northfield, said she favors gun control laws like the state’s Red Flag law, which allows authorities to remove guns from the homes of people a judge deems a danger to themselves or others.

She doesn’t understand the group’s opposition to such laws, she said.

“About 200 guns have been surrendered,” Russo said, “after families realized something terrible could happen. This sanctuary-city language has spilled over to gun sanctuary — I don’t know what the end is. It concerns me there could be a progression to open carry becoming acceptable.”

Hickerson said in many cases under the state’s red flag law, the families did not surrender their guns, but they were taken from them.

James Casas, of Egg Harbor Township, said he has worked in the mental health field, and the important thing is to remove people who pose a danger to others from the public.

“We had a case in (another state) where a man’s weapons were taken from him because of a red flag law. Two days later he stabbed his mom with a samurai sword. Why did they remove the gun and not the person?”

Eileen Toland, of Northfield, said many gun sanctuary activists “believe in a baseless conspiracy about federal government working to destroy the liberties of Americans.”

It “scares the hell out of me,” she said, calling some of the activists radicals.

“This movement is not going away. Now it’s in our backyards,” Toland said. “Guns are purchased for one reason — to shoot. It’s up to the owner to decide what to shoot at: a bull’s-eye, a deer or a person.”

That comment inspired one of the group’s members to quote the Founding Fathers on the issue.

“An unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man,” she quoted Thomas Jefferson; and “To disarm the people is the most effectual way to control them,” she quoted George Mason.

“This should make us afraid, shouldn’t it?” she said.

Contact: 609-272-7219

Twitter @MichelleBPost

Staff Writer

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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