Just as the First Amendment grants Americans the freedom of speech, it likewise empowers them to remain silent. Just as the First Amendment extends freedom of religion, people are also free not to participate in an organized religion. All constitutional freedoms connote a certain degree of autonomy.
The Second Amendment extends the right of private gun ownership. It does not require that anyone own a gun, but so long as there is no legal prohibition such as a criminal background, Americans are free to bear arms. So it follows that there is no federal or state law that sets down such a requirement. But Virgin, Utah, has such a law on the books.
About a year ago, the Virgin Town Council passed an ordinance that requires every town resident to own a gun. The ordinance, largely symbolic, was intended to affirm Second Amendment rights. That's all well and good, but, according to Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, the ordinance violates state law because only the state Legislature can pass gun control legislation.
While we appreciate Virgin residents' affinity for the Second Amendment, state law trumps a local ordinance in this case. Sorry, Virgin. Back to the drawing board.
Might this page suggest that the Virgin Town Council consider drafting a non-binding resolution that embraces the community's sentiment regarding Second Amendment protections but doesn't go so far as to insist that residents own guns? Wasn't that the intent of the ordinance in the first place? With no enforcement mechanism, the existing ordinance is ceremonial in nature, anyway.
According to published reports, Virgin Mayor Jay Lee has said most of the community's 394 residents already own guns, and the ordinance did not result from any crime problem.
If the ordinance was the product of good intentions, this page is confident that the same city leaders will devise a means to get their point across without coming into conflict with state law, itself an inadvertent celebration of the First Amendment.