A popular new way for gun rights advocates to make themselves heard has reached South Jersey.

Several hundred local jurisdictions across America have declared themselves “Second Amendment sanctuaries.” In resolutions with no legal power, they typically say they will oppose unconstitutional restrictions on the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

Cape May County last month became the first in the state to pass such a resolution. Some local towns — including Middle Township, Downe Township and Maurice River Township — have done likewise.

Last week about 50 gun rights advocates filled the Atlantic County Board of Freeholders meeting to urge them to pass a resolution making the county a Second Amendment sanctuary.

Freeholder Chairman Frank Formica expressed some sympathy for lawful gun owners in stringently gun-restricted New Jersey. A longtime businessman who often had to carry large amounts of cash, Formica said he had “tried to get a concealed carry permit for 30 years” to protect himself. “It can’t be done.”

The freeholders pledged to study the matter and possibly put a resolution on an upcoming agenda.

The Second Amendment sanctuaries movement is a conservative response to state gun controls and to the liberal sanctuary cities movement.

Sanctuary cities and states, however, actually order government officers to not cooperate with or even disobey federal immigration law enforcement and policies. That is wrong, and if officials in Second Amendment sanctuaries didn’t follow and enforce the state gun laws they disagree with, they would be wrong too.

Defying the law is wrong and must always remain so. Defenders of immigration law sanctuaries sometimes claim they are only defying civil law, not criminal law. That’s a hollow defense. Society also depends on the full functioning of and faith in civil law to survive.

As a statement of support for the constitutional right to arms, declaring a Second Amendment sanctuary is OK. Whether a gun restriction is unconstitutional is ultimately up to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ensures that right isn’t infringed. The court is currently reviewing a New York City rule that severely restricted the transportation of legally owned guns outside an owner’s home.

But while countering with a conservative sanctuary movement no doubt has strong marketing power, it also weakens the focus on the antisocial actions of sanctuary cities and states. They actually help undermine the rule of law in America and deserve to be condemned. If Second Amendment sanctuaries don’t fully support the rule of law, they’ll deserve condemnation too.

The proper and lawful response in a democracy to a bad law is to persuade elected officials to change it — and if they won’t, change the elected officials. Second Amendment sanctuary resolutions are fine as long as they voice support for such change.

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