Phil Harriman (left) and Ethan Strimling (right). Credit: Gabor Degre / BDN

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Phil: Have you seen the latest trend where local elected officials in Maine (and across the country) have decided to declare their cities a “Second Amendment Sanctuary?”

Ethan: I have. Last vestiges of the NRA attempting to be relevant? No end of foolishness when the gun advocates come out of the woodwork.

Phil: Some might say the same about those sanctuary cities you support for illegal immigrants.

Ethan: The difference, of course, is that the sanctuary cities I support actually make people safer. Fewer gun laws make us less safe.

Phil: Or, you might say, one is looking to protect a constitutional right and the other is looking to protect criminals.

Ethan: Or, you might say, one is looking to protect our inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (from anti-American laws that harm immigrants), and the other thinks the movie “Red Dawn” was a true story.

Phil: It seems a bit hypocritical of you to say that one legislative action attempting to buck federal laws is OK, and the other isn’t, don’t you think? Elected officials take an oath to uphold all the laws and the Constitution, not pick and choose.

Ethan: Truth be told, I have no problem with these elected officials speaking their foolishness out loud. That’s their right. And then it’s my right to ridicule them.

Phil: Whether from the left or the right, if you want to protest federal policy, I suggest you actually protest. Or lobby a congressperson. Or run for federal office yourself. Stop wasting time by debating and adopting local legislation that is meaningless.

Ethan: I bet you would have loved the resolve I offered as a state senator to oppose the war in Iraq. Maine was actually the first state in the nation to go on record opposing that war!

Phil: Your resolution stopped that war in its tracks. Which is my point. While I may agree with the sentiment of protecting our Second Amendment rights, these elected officials have better things to do than pass useless resolutions that no court would uphold.

Ethan: Just to be clear, sanctuary city language passed by local governments is not non-binding. Portland’s law, passed before I became mayor, is a legally binding ordinance that ensures our police department does not spend local money helping ICE harass our residents. And since there is no requirement that a local municipality enforce federal immigration law, it’s both binding and legal.

Phil: You are splitting hairs. The requirement that Portland law enforcement can’t cooperate with federal law enforcement is very different than those who are passing resolutions declaring that they will harbor illegal immigrants. In that case I have an even deeper opposition.

Ethan: It’s not about harboring anyone. It’s about saying we won’t check the papers of a 5 year old who is in kindergarten, or a mother who needs shelter, or a grandparent who comes to our soup kitchen for food. Compare that to a community telling local cops not to take the gun out of the hand of someone who is a danger to public safety.

Phil: Look, I am a big believer in local control, and you’re right that elected officials can say whatever they want. But, for my money, our federal government is here to keep us safe and a local official shouldn’t be spending time picking and choosing which federal law they want to enforce.

Ethan: I love it when you talk about a strong federal government. So sexy!

Phil: If you think that’s sexy, you should hear me talk about the Federalist Papers.

Ethan: I always knew you were a secret Alexander Hamilton fan.

Phil: I am. Especially when he said, “Vigor of government is essential to the security of liberty.”

Ethan: I prefer what he said to Thomas Jefferson: “There are approximately 1,010,300 words in the English language, but I could never string enough words together to properly express how much I want to hit you with a chair.”

Phil: Sometimes that’s how I feel about local officials seeking to set federal regulations….