GRAND FORKS — Less than a week after Roseau County became the first county in Minnesota to be designated a "Second Amendment sanctuary" county, the movement has "taken off like wildfire," said state Rep. Jeremy Munson, R-Lake Crystal.
On Tuesday, Feb. 18, Wadena, Clearwater and Marshall counties passed similar Second Amendment sanctuary resolutions, and votes are planned in Kittson, Pennington, Ottertail and Mille Lacs counties in the coming days, Munson said.
Those counties that pass the resolutions join more than 400 communities nationwide with similar resolutions, which essentially state the community's intent to refuse to use local resources to restrict the Second Amendment.
It remains unclear whether these resolutions will present a legal challenge, but Munson said, for now, these resolutions serve as a way to express opposition to potential future "red flag" laws in Minnesota, which would give law enforcement and concerned relatives an avenue to petition the courts to have guns temporarily removed from people deemed to be a risk to themselves or others.
Red flag laws have been proposed in Minnesota but not passed. One such law is expected to be voted on by the House of Representatives in the coming weeks. Munson said he hopes the movement will continue to gain momentum before that time.
"I'd love to see a dozen or more counties pass this resolution, so we can show Democrats that it's not even going to be enforced in a good chunk of rural Minnesota," Munson said.
But it's still hazy whether that will be the case if the law is passed. At least one Minnesota sheriff has said that, while he fully supports the resolution, he intends to enforce whatever state law is put on the books.
"My oath says I enforce state laws," Roseau County Sheriff Steve Gust said last week following the first vote. "They can't stop me from that. Law enforcement officers have got an obligation."
Munson posted what he calls a "toolkit" on his website in December, which intends to give Minnesota residents all the information they need to ask their county commissioners to pass sanctuary resolutions. Those materials include contact information for their local decisionmakers, a sample resolution and a petition to express their support.
But since the first vote last week, Munson said the movement has taken on a life of its own.
He estimates there are about 30 groups on Facebook created to support sanctuary resolutions in Minnesota counties. Those groups appear to range in size from a few dozen members to more than 1,000. One group, "Morrison County for 2A Sanctuary," was created Feb. 17 and had 1,829 members as of Wednesday afternoon.
"It's completely organic," Munson said. "People are doing it on their own."
In addition to the resolution, Clearwater County commissioners are also drafting an ordinance to go along with their sanctuary resolution, which Munson characterized as a way to make infringement on Second Amendment rights a criminal offense. After the language is finalized, the ordinance will be put on a future agenda to be voted on.
"And that's ultimately what we want," he said. "Something with teeth."