Second Amendment rally

Supporters for Second Amendment rights gathered outside the Historic Courthouse in Carthage on Tuesday. Laura Douglas/The Pilot

Approximately two dozen proponents of the Second Amendment gathered outside the Moore County Historic Courthouse on Tuesday evening, and several addressed commissioners seeking support

Waving flags and banners, those outside the Board of Commissioners meeting in Carthage garnered some appreciative horn toots from passing motorists.

Meanwhile, on the second floor of the building, commissioners conducted a regular business meeting that did not include any gun-related agenda items; however, several people spoke during public comment on a variety of politically charged issues ranging from gun ownership to statewide mask mandates to concerns that First Amendment rights are at risk.

Local resident Vic Allen encouraged county leaders to stand firm in their support of gun rights, stating that he is “uncomfortable living right now.”

“I’ve been told I was deplorable, that I cling to my Bible and my guns. Now I’ve been identified by half of our government as a domestic terrorist and a racist,” Allen said, alluding to the tumultuous national election and its aftermath. “Why are there troops in the capital? What are they afraid of? Tyrants have made people defenseless all through history.”

In February 2020, before a packed meeting room dominated by Second Amendment supporters, the Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution vowing “to use every authority and power of the county to defend and protect the rights” of its citizens to bear arms.”

The resolution further stated the board would oppose, within the limits of the Constitution of the United States and the state of North Carolina, any efforts to unconstitutionally restrict such rights, and that the Constitution “shall be the supreme law of the land.”

But the resolution stopped short of declaring Moore County as a “Second Amendment sanctuary county,” as several surrounding counties have done, including Richmond and Lee. Following the meeting last year, Commissioner Louis Gregory told The Pilot the Board worked with Sheriff Ronnie Fields in crafting the resolution, which was modeled after one adopted by Randolph County.

Allen expressed disappointment in commissioners’ decision to omit the "sanctuary county" language. He said the wording of the Second Amendment is “pretty clear. It is politicians and different interest groups that muddy the water.”

“Individual liberty is the core of our republic. We should not let it slip anymore,” he added.

Ken Benway also spoke in support of gun rights. He asked the county leaders to be proactive defenders of the Second Amendment, stating that without it the Bill of Rights is “defenseless”.

“We must hang together or, most assuredly, we will hang separately,” Benway said.

David Miller cautioned that there are a number of gun control bills currently before Congress that “would inhibit or do away with the Second Amendment.”

“We here in Moore County have hundreds and hundreds of gun owners. I would say 99 percent are law-abiding citizens,” Miller said, adding that the county’s resolution of support is a symbolic but powerful gesture.

Alexa Roberts also expressed her appreciation for county leaders passing the resolution stating their support of the Second Amendment last year, and challenged them to make the same commitment now to the First Amendment.

“We are becoming an echo chamber,” Roberts said, “of people unwilling to listen to those with differing beliefs.”

In particular, she singled out the “cancel culture” attitude that has threatened the area’s small business community over mask mandates. She said there have been calls to boycott businesses on both sides of the debate.

“While politics can divide us, it is time to stand firmly on common ground. The First Amendment unites us all,” Roberts said, asking county leaders to declare their support for the right for freedom of speech and religion, the right to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government with grievances.

Lynn Goldham also expressed concern about individual rights and liberty.

“I feel like lately, only certain people are getting their rights protected: masks come to mind. It is proven that they don’t stop viruses getting in and getting out,” Goldham said, stating that it should be the right for individuals in Moore County to have the choice to wear a mask or carry a gun.

The mandate to wear face masks in public places was ordered several months ago by Gov. Roy Cooper as a means of reducing transmission of the coronavirus.

Kevin Lewis also spoke in support of the First Amendment, noting that people with open-carry permits of firearms may intimidate others from peaceably assembling. He noted a recent encounter with an armed man in a grocery store who refused to wear a mask and made him nervous.

“The right to assembly is one of our most important rights. But when those assembled are not peaceful, people will get hurt,” Lewis said. “I hope people will realize that a (Second Amendment) sanctuary county is not where I or other people want to live.”

John Misiaszek also spoke in support of free speech, asking county leaders to add an option for public comments to be submitted in writing prior to a meeting. He said this is timely and necessary with social restrictions still in place that limit the number of people who can attend the meetings in person.

Building security in the courthouse was slightly heightened during Tuesday’s meeting, with bag checks in progress. Standard security measures also in place include temperature screening and stepping through a metal detector.

Prior to the start of the meeting, County Chairman Frank Quis reminded audience members that face masks are required inside county facilities to limit the potential spread of COVID-19. A Moore County Sheriff’s deputy and Moore County Public Safety Director Bryan Phillips passed out disposable face masks to the few in attendance who had arrived without one.

Top County Jobs Approved for Salary Increases

Also Tuesday, the Board of Commissioners approved increases in annual salaries for several of the county’s top ranked positions, effective July 1.

According to information provided to The Pilot, County Manager Wayne Vest’s current salary of $161,262 will increase to $170,000; County Attorney Misty Leland’s current salary of $133,171 will increase to $140,000; County Clerk Laura William’s current salary of $81,151 will increase to $90,000; County Tax Administrator Gary Briggs’ current salary of $98,838 will increase to $103,000; Register of Deeds Judy Martin’s current salary of $96,061 will increase to $100,000; and Sheriff Ronnie Fields’ current salary of $116,372 will increase to $122,000. This is the first salary adjustment to these positions since August 2019.

In other discussion, the Moore County Board of Commissioners:

Sitting as East Moore Water District Board of Directors, approved a Phase 4 project revision and sole source purchase of water meters, not to exceed $32,000.

Approved the purchase of an ambulance chassis and remount requested by Public Safety Director Bryan Phillips.

Reappointed Laura May and appointed Joseph Keen to the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council.

Appointed Matt Hausser of the Talamore community to the CVB Board.

(14) comments

Barbara Misiaszek

I think this is the first reporting of salary increases for top County officials. I want to thank Gary Briggs for the outstanding work he and his department does. They collect more than 99% of taxes billed every year,they do a great job with the periodic reassessment and appeal process and stand ever ready to aide with any questions relative to property valuations. Great job Gary.

John Misiaszek

David StClair

I don’t know who Vic Allen is, but I certainly feel sorry for him if he actually feels “uncomfortable living right now.” I have never felt the need to own a gun to feel safe but comments like Mr. Allen’s might make me re-think that. As to his question about why there are troops in Washington, the answer should be pretty obvious, and it is to anyone who didn’t drink Trump’s Kool Aid. The election wasn’t stolen and the right wing terrorists who tried to overturn it on January 6th are the ones trying to deny us our rights, not people who think that the words “well regulated” in the Second Amendment should actually have some meaning.

Mark Hayes

There are over 70 million that don't drink " Trump Kool Aid ", although they liked his policies. Only some North East refugee would make a comment like that. Don't worry about " right wing terrorist ", they are not doing the looting, shooting, rioting, protesting and burning Police cars, they be your BLM, Antifa and the submissive folks that follow. Trump Kool Aid has been taken off the shelf, replaced by Biden Brew, drink up, but expect to have a very bad hangover.

Russell McAllister

The Big Lie that "masks don't work" continues to be promulgated by people who know better, but are persuaded by their ideological commitments to continue offering their comments in public forums. At least, I hope they know better; the data have been so widely published and reviewed in such exquisite detail in every responsible news outlet that only the most recalcitrant would refuse to accept the conclusions. So this proposition that "masks interfere with my freedom" is really a demand that the rest of the community be subject to increased risks of disease transmission because of a personal preference, just as those who refuse to vaccinate their children against communicable diseases put the rest of the population at risk. These sorts of actions are actually a violent assault against the health and well-being of us all, and they clearly demonstrate the result of an insistence upon "rights" in the absence of an acceptance of "responsibilities". There are profound civics lessons in this kerfuffle, and perhaps even a Case Study for the Pilot's writers.

Christopher Davis

Not true. My data doesn't match your data. Masks are not going to protect you. Only harm you. They hold in toxins. Fauci has previously stated that the masks don't work. If you feel unsafe, wear a mask. If you'v taken the shot, then you should be fine.

Sally Larson

Christopher, why have masks always been worn by hospital doctors and nurses? Are you willing to spend time on a Covid floor helping dying people understand why the masks don't work? This is a childish argument and has been disproven over and over again. You and like believers are the reason this country can't open up yet, but you aren't willing to do what needs to be done to make that happen. You can't have it both ways.

Jim Tomashoff

What is this "data" that you speak of? I know of no peer reviewed "data" that indicates that wearing a mask harms one by holding in toxins. I think that's nonsense. Prove me wrong.

Justin Bradford

as evidenced by the fact that most surgeons, dental hygienists, etc die prematurely as the result of years of frequent mask wearing, right, Chris?

Robert Beck

RIGHT ON. I could not have said it better! RDBeck

Lowell Simon

In February of 2020 these County Commissioners approved a Resolution declaring their support for the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. At the time I asked why a resolution for this particular Amendment?

There are 27 Amendments in all, and many of them are under attack today.

Consider how often any of us have actually used the Second Amendment to protect our rights. Now consider how often we have used the First Amendment to protect those Second Amendment rights.

Our framers did very little by accident, especially when it comes to writing The Constitution. The First Amendment alone contains six distinct rights and is almost the definition of Democracy.

Debating the importance of the Second Amendment is nearly meaningless. After decades of falsely claiming that some Democrat is coming for our guns, US gun sales continue to set new records. Every few years another completely fake fear gets raised and each year we wait for the knock on our door that never comes.

But we freely open that door to invite fake news and cancel culture into our living rooms. We allow newly elected officials to muzzle constituents in public forums for having opposing views. We allow them to make baseless claims without being challenged because they do so in private forums. And we allow them to rant on radio shows that have no idea what’s going on outside their windowless basements.

Moore County’s citizens appreciate your commitment to oppose any “act that unconstitutionally would infringe on the rights of the citizens…”

We, the people urge you to support this resolution affirming your commitment to protect our rights to the free exercise of religion, free speech, freedom of the press, our right to peacefully assemble and our right to petition the government with our grievances.

Barbara Misiaszek

And even after being offered masks some still refused to put them on. Thanks for your consideration.

John Misiaszek

Kent Misegades

Which was exactly correct John. Masks don’t work and forcing others to wear them is unconstitutional.

Justin Bradford

have you read the entire document, including the 10th amendment, Kent? Doubtful.

Barbara Misiaszek

Kent, there is a requirement to wear masks in County buildings. Those who refused should have been asked to leave and if they refused arrested for trespassing.

John Misiaszek

Welcome to the discussion.

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