Action to designate Koochiching County a “Second Amendment Dedicated County” was postponed by officials earlier this week.
Surrounded by about 40 residents, the Koochiching County Board Tuesday tabled acting on a resolution that would designate the county a Second Amendment Dedicated County, more commonly known as a Second Amendment “sanctuary county.”
Similar resolutions have been adopted by more than 400 communities nationwide, including Roseau County which was the first county in Minnesota to do so, Feb. 11.
A city or county's status as Second Amendment dedicated, or sanctuary, establishes that local leaders will oppose new and existing gun control legislation, even though counties and cities may have little control over laws passed at state and national levels.
County Attorney Jeff Naglosky cautioned commissioners on stepping outside their role as a board.
“I'm not anti-gun, I'm pro law,” he said. “You have certain authority and responsibility as a county board, but you can't preempt any state or federal law. Some of the wording in the resolution... I worry oversteps your boundaries as a county board.”
Commissioner Brian McBride agreed. He, too, said he supports the Second Amendment, but as an elected official, he swore to uphold state and federal laws. He said the board might instead consider a proclamation supporting the Second Amendment in the future.
In addition, McBride said he didn't want to rush any decisions, but felt the full board should be together to discuss the resolution.
“We may have rushed it a little bit and I think the board feels a little uncomfortable,” he said of making any decisions Tuesday. “I want time to really think about this.”
Other commissioners agreed more time to consider the resolution is needed, but listened Tuesday to passionate testimonies from the audience both for and against the resolution.
“I have a right... to protect my family,” Julie Carlson said. “People need to know that they have a right to do that. This sanctuary is important... we need this for our protection.”
Kathy West disagreed.
“We're already protected by the Second Amendment,” she said. "I think that fear of somebody coming for your guns is not a good reason to make this a sanctuary county.”
Many audience members said they believed passing the resolution makes a statement that Koochiching County stands up against “red flag” laws that have been introduced in Congress and the Legislature to enable judges to restrict gun possession for people who may present a danger to themselves or others. Such laws have been proposed in Minnesota, but not passed.
“There is no red flag law on the books,” Naglosky said.
One audience member said Twin Cities lawmakers are “knocking at our doors trying to pass these laws left and right... They're going to find some way to pass these laws...(This resolution) puts up a little note that says, 'You're going to have trouble' (taking firearms away).”
Bruce Sampson asked commissioners to give Koochiching County a voice.
"When our county... and other counties get together and take this stance... now we have a voice," he said. "I think this is something we very definitely need to do... We need to take a stance."
Cynthia Jaksa said such resolutions are pushing state and federal issues down to the county level, where there is no authority to decide if something is or isn't unconstitutional.
“It only divides people,” she said. “I think we should all work together for economic development.”
Commissioners were unsure of the exact date the resolution would come back to the board, but said it would be at least a month before it is included on the agenda again.