Crow Wing County Board majority opposes future unconstitutional restrictions on firearms
The resolution states a deep commitment to "possess firearms and intends to oppose, within legal limits, any efforts in the future to unconstitutionally restrict such rights."
BRAINERD — On a split vote, the Crow Wing County Board approved a resolution naming itself a Second Amendment dedicated county, stating it plans to oppose any efforts in the future to unconstitutionally restrict the right to keep and bear arms, namely firearms.
The Second Amendment in the U.S. Constitution states, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
The resolution was not on the published agenda for Tuesday's regular board meeting on Feb. 28, but was added at the meeting’s outset as additional business.
The nine-paragraph resolution points to the Second Amendment, notes two Supreme Court rulings, one affirming the right to possess firearms unconnected with service in a militia and one guaranteeing the right to keep and bear arms applies to state and local governments. The resolution then pointed to economic benefits of firearm recreation, hunting and shooting. The resolution also pointed to any legislation, now or in the future, by the state or Congress, that could have the effect of infringing on the rights of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms, stating, “the Crow Wing County Board of Commissioners is concerned about the passage of any new legislation containing language which could be interpreted as infringing on the rights of citizens of Crow Wing County to keep and bear arms.”
The resolution states the board wishes to express its deep commitment to the rights of all citizens of the county to possess firearms and intends to oppose, within legal limits, any efforts in the future to unconstitutionally restrict such rights.
Commissioner Doug Houge added the resolution to the agenda, saying he and Commissioner Paul Koering were discussing the rate at which some bills in the state Legislature are moving, particularly those regarding the Second Amendment, and were concerned and felt an urgency to get the board’s position known sooner rather than later.
The two main bills, Minnesota Public Radio reported in February, “would expand background check requirements for firearm sales and other transfers, and allow authorities to temporarily confiscate guns from people in crisis under what are commonly known as red flag laws or extreme risk protection orders.”
MPR outlined what each bill looks like:
- The red flag bill would allow family members, mental health professionals and law enforcement to seek orders from judges to temporarily prohibit people in immediate danger of harming themselves or others from possessing or purchasing firearms for up to a year.
- While Minnesota already requires instant criminal background checks for gun sales at licensed dealers, that bill would extend them to most private transfers of pistols and "semiautomatic military-style assault weapons." Police chiefs and sheriffs could deny transfer permits if they deem an applicant a danger to the public or themselves.
Commissioner Paul Koering said in the discussion with Houge, it’s the quickness in seeing the Legislature move with one party.
“In the discussion that Commissioner Houge and myself had, and the quickness that we’re seeing the Legislature move with all one party of the Legislature, I know that I’m concerned about people’s rights that are in my district.”
Koering said, in the discussion with Houge, they thought it was important to let local legislators know the county is concerned about people’s rights.
“So that’s really the purpose of this resolution today and I hope people can support it,” Koering said.
Board Chair Rosemary Franzen said, “We’ve gone through this before and I know Commissioner Koering and I are very on board with the Second Amendment. I also know that our sheriff has sent a letter and he feels the same way that I think now three of us for sure do and I will be supporting this totally.”
“The former Minnesota Senate GOP majority prevented much discussion of the proposals in their body over the last several years,” MPR reported earlier this month. “But Democrats gained a one-seat Senate majority in the November elections to win the trifecta — control of both chambers and the governor's office — for the first time in eight years. That's given gun safety advocates hope while putting Second Amendment activists on the defensive.”
Commissioner Steve Barrows said, in knowing this issue might come back before the board, he’s taken a few things into consideration.
“First I think it’s appropriate to acknowledge the passion the gun rights advocates have for the Second Amendment,” Barrows said. “I think their concern about the expediency of some of these pieces of legislation moving through the Legislature is warranted.”
Barrows also said he thinks the oath of office board members take when elected requires them to support both the U.S. and Minnesota constitutions. Barrows noted there was no specific legislation listed in the resolution, which is the first question they get from state representatives and which could clarify exactly what the conversation is about. With no resolution identified, Barrows said it would not be appropriate to offer either support or no support.
“So today, this resolution asks the County Board to take a position on a very general topic, the Second Amendment,” Barrows said. “And to my knowledge there’s not been any requests to support or not support any specific piece of legislation, only a generality. And because of that I cannot support a board resolution that does not provide clarity — only generalities.”
Commissioner Jon Lubke noted his recent addition to the board and said while he hasn’t been part of the board very long he knows the topic has been discussed in previous years.
“So, for myself, I’d like to do a little more homework on it,” Lubke said. “I haven’t decided yet.”
The board passed the resolution, voting 3-1 with Koering, Houge and Franzen in favor of the resolution. Barrows was opposed. Lubke voted present, which means he wasn’t taking a position for or against and was essentially abstaining.
Sheriff Eric Klang spoke to the commissioners briefly before the vote saying he thinks there are already laws in place to cover the negligent use of firearms and the current laws in place need to be used.
“And if there’s a problem with those laws, then we should, you know, we should change those or we should amend them but not just make up new laws,” Klang said.
Renee Richardson, managing editor, may be reached at 218-855-5852 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchBizBuzz.