No vote on 2nd Amendment resolution in Crow Wing
Board Chairman Paul Koering cited a desire for the public to weigh in before returning the matter to a future meeting agenda.
Reversing course, Crow Wing County Board Chairman Paul Koering pulled a Second Amendment-related resolution from the agenda at the board’s Tuesday, April 14, meeting.
Koering said last week he intended to make a motion to approve the resolution, which if passed would designate the county as “Second Amendment dedicated.” Three other commissioners — Steve Barrows, Bill Brekken and Doug Houge — told the Dispatch Friday they would prefer an official public comment period before consideration.
On Tuesday, Koering said he would move the matter to a later, unspecified date, when the public has the opportunity to weigh in. The board unanimously approved Tuesday’s agenda with that item removed. The public remains restricted from county board meetings during a state of emergency in response to COVID-19.
Thus far, nine Minnesota counties have passed sanctuary resolutions, including nearby Wadena and Todd counties, according to a map maintained by the nonprofit advocacy group Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus. Passage of these resolutions indicate county leaders might challenge or refuse to enforce these kinds of laws, including the potential expenditure of public funds in the process.
A March 10 Crow Wing County Board meeting was packed with about 200 people who showed up on the issue. It featured passionate testimony from dozens, mostly in favor of the resolution, during the open forum. Several pointed to what they cited as potentially dangerous implications or ineffectiveness of red flag legislation. Arguments included the idea people could lose their guns because of false claims by a vindictive ex-spouse, for example, or fears over how mental health problems may be defined and by whom.
Opponents of the resolution, meanwhile, raised questions about the county potentially dedicating public funds collected from all county residents to advance the views of one particular group. Other points included the issue falling outside the county’s purview and why this amendment would be elevated over others in the Constitution.
A day after that outpouring on March 11, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a global pandemic, sparking a cascade of event cancellations, emergency declarations and dramatic changes to everyday life over the course of the following weeks. Among those cancellations was a March 19 public hearing on the Second Amendment issue.
The Cass County Board voted down a similar resolution April 7, with a majority of the board citing concerns with potential legal liability and whether costs associated with a lawsuit would be covered by the county’s insurance. In addition to those financial concerns, Cass County Administrator Josh Stevenson said another issue was the potential perception the board would be directing other elected officials, such as the county sheriff and county attorney. Stevenson emphasized repeatedly the board believed in the Second Amendment cause, but these other considerations ultimately won out.