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Marie Fortune of Pleasant Hill addresses the Cumberland County Commission regarding a Second Amendment Sanctuary County resolution last week during the public-comment period as several others wait their turn to speak. Residents are allowed three minutes to address the county commission. Fortune told commissioners the resolution was unnecessary and fears it will only pit citizens against one another.

Last week county commissioners approved a resolution to declare Cumberland County a “Second Amendment Sanctuary” county and a resolution of “No consent to refugee resettlement in Cumberland County.”

The county’s action on both resolutions was met by a roar of applause and cheers from a standing-room-only audience. Dozens of county residents spoke during the public-comment period prior to the votes and echoed sentiments of support for approval of the resolutions, though legally they have little impact other than voicing the county’s commitment to support the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution and that Cumberland County would not participate in the possible resettlement of refugees in the county.

While many residents lined up to make comments of support for both resolutions, there were some who voiced opinions of opposition.

“I have been a gun owner all of my life ever since my granddaddy gave me a rifle and taught me to hunt in the mountains of Western North Carolina. No one has ever attempted to take my gun from me, and this is not happening now. Our guns don’t need sanctuary. The Second Amendment doesn’t need sanctuary. It is well established and functioning just fine. The reference to ‘certain legislation’ that might infringe on citizens’ rights is vague and unsubstantiated. What legislation? … Sorry, I don’t understand the motivation behind this resolution. What I worry about is that it is simply an effort to draw the commission into stating a political position which will only pit citizen against citizen,” Marie Fortune of Pleasant Hill said.

“I was a refugee from Bosnia. When I was 24 years old I came to the United States with my husband, my mother-in-law and her 9-year-old son and my 14-month-old daughter. We left Bosnia because of the war. We left for safety and a better life for our child. President Clinton opened the door for us and other refugees. The United Church of Christ was our sponsor. We arrived in Pleasant Hill with nothing. We had to start over and everyone was very supportive and helpful. We are full citizens and own our home in Holiday Hills. My husband has worked for Flowers Bakery for 23 years. I have worked for Crossville Ceramics for 20 years. Our first daughter graduated from MTSU three years ago and our second daughter is now a freshman at MTSU. We worked hard. Refugees work hard. Refugees can be good,” Svetlana Petrovic of Crossville said.

When county attorney Philip Burnett was asked his opinion over the matter by Nancy Hyder, 2nd District commissioner, he said under President Donald Trump’s administration, there would be no resettlement of refugees in Cumberland County during 2020 because the county did not opt into the program by the Jan. 21 deadline.

“The executive order allowed counties to opt in, but Cumberland County did not, so it’s already law you won’t get refugees, anyway. Not during the Trump administration … There’s no disadvantage or advantage to adopt this resolution,” Burnett, said.

The Second Amendment resolution is one that has been approved by several counties throughout Tennessee.

The resolution states the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution reads “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

“The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners hereby expresses its intent to uphold the Second Amendment rights of the citizens of Cumberland County and its intent that public funds of the county not be used to restrict Second Amendment rights or to aid in the unnecessary and unconstitutional restriction of the rights under the Second Amendment of the citizens of Cumberland County to bear arms and the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners herby declares its intent to oppose unconstitutional restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms through such legal means as may be expedient. The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners herby declares Cumberland County as a Second Amendment Sanctuary,” the resolution states.

Hyder asked Burnett to confirm, “Passing this just means we’re backing the Second Amendment, right?”

Burnett agreed.

Deborah Holbrook, 8th District commissioner, was the sole no vote on both resolutions. All other commissioners voted to approve both resolutions.

County commissioners Rebecca Stone, 3rd District; and Colleen Mall, 9th District, did not attend the meeting.

Gary Nelson may be reached at