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March 28, 2020

3/13/2020 10:28:00 AM
Chisago County Board vote supports Second Amendment; falls short of other gun caucus demands

The gun sanctuary movement landed in the Chisago County Board Room March 4 and there was a full hour of public comment, on both sides of the Second Amendment argument.  The commissioners unanimously adopted a  stripped down version of a boilerplate resolution, reportedly provided by the statewide Gun Owners’ Caucus.  The item was placed on the agenda by Commissioner Chris DuBose.  

The original resolution contained seven points, or statements.  Commissioner Mike Robinson motioned the adoption of the resolution but deleted two of the clauses.  He also inserted a statement expressing the Board’s support for increasing Minnesota’s Safe Schools Levy, under consideration in the state legislature now.

The deleted wording was hotly contested by some persons who spoke.

The original resolution called for the county to basically not enforce certain laws that “infringe” on the right to bear arms.  The specific laws were not identified; but multiple people addressed the Red Flag Bill recently passed out of the House in St Paul and the bill that calls for the addition of gun transfers to firearm transactions requiring a background check.

Area resident Steve Sicheneder told the Board that applying the resolution conditions will be near impossible. Do you tell the county attorney who to prosecute? Do you pull government center security (because it impedes carrying guns) Do you quit funding the sheriff’s office, he asked.

He and many others reminded the Board that officeholders take an oath to support the state and all its duly-passed laws.

Resident Michael Madden stated the supporters of this “Two-A” (second amendment) movement are using the local politicians. (Other County Boards have had this on agendas.)

The movement wants zero restrictions or oversight on any firearms, he said. The county shouldn’t be using tax dollars to get involved in partisan issues under those clauses the resolution originally contained, such as, the county would “...refuse to appropriate any resources to enforce any...directive which infringes on the right of law abiding citizens to keep and bear arms.”

The other eliminated clause declared, the Board would “...use any means including court action to protect” Second Amendment rights.  

Approximately 200 people crowded the Board Room and watched the meeting on closed circuit monitors in the hallway and government center lunchroom.  There was a stepped-up presence of uniformed personnel, but Sheriff Brandon Thyen was absent due to overseeing the annual Badge of Honor Awards event being held simultaneously at a rural venue.

An emotional moment came as Shannon Johnson-- whose father was shot dead in an encounter with a neighbor north of Lindstrom-- said, “Gun violence can happen to anyone.”  She said background checks have been approved in a host of states and the courts have reviewed and approved them. Red Flag powers would have perhaps averted her father’s murder, if a judge could have been  presented evidence to empower authorities to confiscate an unstable person’s firearm.

She also was concerned the “Two A” sanctuary resolution confuses people and felt there will be shooters who will think nobody is going to enforce gun laws here.  

On the other side of the aisle, visitors wore a round red sticker on shirtfronts that said ‘Guns Save Lives.’  
Stacy Mayor Mark Utecht read the second amendment aloud and said it is very clear and not ambiguous.

Wyoming area resident Steve Zerwas said the Red Flag law confiscation process creates situations where law enforcement personnel will be placed in danger.

Former North Branch Mayor Ron Lindquist told the Board to adopt the sanctuary resolution and “send a message the commissioners support the Bill of Rights.”

The commissioners asked for counsel from County Attorney Janet Reiter;  who advised that elected persons like herself and the sheriff can be removed for malfeasance if there’s proof they aren’t upholding their oaths to enforce the law.

She added that in general commissioners can state at any time their support for the Second Amendment by speaking through a resolution.  As far as the original resolution clause for withholding resources tied to enforcing firearms law-- this is not practical.  The budget doesn’t differentiate precisely which investigations, tickets or arrests are being funded.

Commissioner DuBose said he’d be okay with waiting and re-writing the resolution for a later date.  But, the other commissioners wanted a vote that night.

 Commissioner Robinson  commented that this agenda item started picking up steam on-line (Facebook etc) two weeks before,  and has become a wedge issue for November’s election.  Even though the Board has no power to do much of anything the Two-A gun sanctuary movement seeks, he wanted to put this to rest with this “symbolic” resolution.  It passed 5-0.

The resolution which commissioners voted in favor of  declares the Board of Commissioners expresses opposition to any law that would restrict the constitutional right of law-abiding citizens of Chisago County to keep and bear arms. The county is a “dedicated Second Amendment county.”  The Board expresses its intent to uphold and protect the Second Amendment rights of law abiding citizens of Chisago County.  
The Board distributed a letter received prior to the March 4 meeting signed by local state lawmakers, Anne Neu, Brian Johnson and Mark Koran.  

The letter said “...nearly 400 counties across the United States have adopted laws or resolutions that seek to prohibit or impede the enforcement of certain gun control measures that would violate the Second Amendment, including universal background checks and bans on modern sporting rifles...a sample resolution to serve as a model for the Board to consider is included with this letter.  

“We look forward to doing our part as legislators to fight for, protect and fortify the Second Amendment at the state level.  We encourage you to provide leadership at the county level by upholding the Second Amendment rights our shared constituents are afforded by our Constitution. Your response to our request to make Chisago County a pro second amendment protection county is eagerly anticipated.”

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