MN County Becomes State's First Second Amendment Sanctuary

Commissioners in Roseau County, Minnesota have approved a resolution declaring the county a Second Amendment Sanctuary, becoming the first county in the state to join the growing national movement (though others are considering the measure).

The Roseau County resolution, passed unanimously to applause from the dozen residents in attendance, reads that the board “wishes to express opposition to any law in the future, beyond existing laws to date, that would unconstitutionally restrict the rights of the citizens of Roseau County to keep and bear arms.”

The motion goes on to resolve that “public funds of the county not be used to restrict the Second Amendment rights of the citizens of Roseau County, or to aid federal or state agencies in the restriction of said rights.”

Roseau County Sheriff Steve Gust said the resolution won’t change local law enforcement’s operations, since one of the resolution’s main intents is to oppose “red flag” gun laws, which allow courts to temporarily remove guns from people who are found to be a risk to themselves or others. Red flag laws have been proposed in Minnesota but not passed.

Only a dozen residents in attendance? I think that’s the smallest turnout I’ve seen for any Second Amendment Sanctuary resolution. Apparently support in the community was widespread enough that many residents didn’t feel the need to turn out in person to encourage commissioners to approve the language.

With proposed red flag laws being considered by the Legislature, however, County Commissioner Russell Walker said the resolution was about making a statement.

“Sometimes you have to make a stand on some things that people might think is radical, but you got to get people’s attention so they all band together and support what you’re doing,” Walker said. “I think this is a thing that the gun owners in Minnesota need to get on board, because there are a bunch of radical folks down in the metro area that are on the other side of the issue, and they’re ready to infringe on my constitutional rights and the rights of everybody else in the state.”

While support from commissioners was unanimous, the Pioneer Press notes that the county’s attorney wouldn’t sign off on the measure, saying she wanted to get an opinion from the Minnesota County Attorneys Association. Kristy Kjos says that group will be meeting later this month to come up with the legal opinion.

Kjos said she has been in her position with the county for about a year. In that time, she said the board hasn’t passed any other motions without her legal advice.

But Walker said he and Commissioner John Horner, who also spearheaded the passage of the resolution, were weary of what they perceive as a disconnect between the urban attorneys who make up the state board’s leadership and rural Minnesota gun owners.

“(Kjos) thought we should get advice from them first, and myself and John Horner made a very strong stand against that and said, basically, ‘We’re leaders, not followers, and we’re not going to let the metro decide what we’re going to do in Roseau County,’” Walker said. “We were elected to represent Roseau County, not (Hennepin County Attorney Michael) Freeman or any of these other guys who are Hennepin County attorneys or Ramsey County attorneys. As far as I’m concerned, they’re with the opposition and I will not listen or have anything to do with them, period.”

I like that attitude. Roseau County commissioners aren’t taking their queues from their counterparts in Minnesota’s urban centers. Why should the county attorney?

We know the state association is likely to say that these resolutions have no force of law, blah blah blah. That misses the point. This was a resolution, not an ordinance. It’s a statement of principle, an exercise of the First Amendment in support of the Second Amendment. Ultimately, if it were to come down to a county refusing to spend resources enforcing certain laws, I imagine that would make for an interesting court case. For now though, there’s no reason for the county attorney to oppose this resolution, other than on ideological grounds.