What To Do When Your County Won't Support A 2A Sanctuary Resolution?

(Illinois Gun Owners Lobby Day)

For well over a year now, a group of Second Amendment supporters in western Minnesota have been trying to get their county commissioners to take up and approve a Second Amendment Sanctuary ordinance, but the commissioners themselves don’t have any interest in doing so. On Tuesday, those frustrations boiled over, and several local activists ended up interrupting the latest meeting of the Otter Tail County Commission to demand that a vote take place.

“You are there to represent us, we, the people,” said a woman who did not identify herself and who said her group has tried unsuccessfully to get on the county’s agenda. “And it’s not your obligation to ignore us.” She interrupted the county attorney, Michelle Eldien, who was attempting to respond, and Board Chairman Lee Rogness threatened to have her removed if she did not allow Eldien to speak.

Halfway through the woman’s comments, the county’s video livestream of the meeting stopped working and didn’t pick up again until the protesters left the room. County chairman Lee Rogness had indicated before the meeting started the commission was experiencing technical difficulties with the livestream feed, and county spokesperson Shannon Terry said that the lapse in coverage was caused by a technical failure and not by a decision to cut the feed.

Terry said that the group had members inside and outside the courtroom and that they were demonstrating peacefully.

I completely understand the frustration of these activists. Having been a part of the Second Amendment Sanctuary movement in my home state of Virginia, I’ve seen county supervisors who were similarly reluctant to take up the issue. In fact, I’ve heard local officials make the exact same argument against 2A Sanctuary resolutions as the commissioners in Otter Tail County made after Tuesday’s meeting concluded.

“Recently, commissioners and county boards across the country have been asked to weigh in on a variety of issues that do not directly pertain to county services,” the statement said, in part. “County boards have been asked to pass resolutions on gun control, school choice, immigration and refugee policy, COVID-19 business closures, mask mandates, and a host of other topics.
“Today, a group of Otter Tail County citizens exercised their 1st amendment right at the Government Services Center in Fergus Falls by peacefully gathering and expressing their support of the 2nd amendment.
“While we are fervent supporters of the United States constitution and all 27 amendments, it is inappropriate for the Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners to pass a symbolic proclamation about the 2nd amendment or any other topic outside of our purview.”

That’s a bit of a dodge, to be honest. It may be that the vast majority of the work done by elected county officials aren’t exactly political in nature, but there’s nothing precluding these officials from weighing in on other issues, even if they believe their pronouncements are more symbolic than substantive.

“It is inappropriate to mislead the public by pretending we have some authority over these issues when we do not,” the statement said.

It also said that in light of its many responsibilities, all statutory or mandated by the state, it approved a proclamations and resolutions policy in December that says the county would focus on issues it is responsible for and “stay in our lane.”

These commissioners have authority over how county funds are spent, which means its entirely in their lane to adopt a policy that no funds will be spent enforcing any new federally-imposed restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms. Now maybe these commissioners don’t want to adopt that policy, but they shouldn’t pretend that they don’t have the power to do so.

So what do you do when your county officials want to duck an issue that’s of great importance to a number of residents, especially now that they’ve made it clear there will not be a vote? I’d say it’s time for these activists to get organized. Two of the five county commissioners are up for re-election next year, and if these activists want to really send a message, they need to defeat both and replace them with commissioners who will take a stand in support of the Second Amendment rights of county residents.
It looks like the county sheriff is up for re-election next year as well, and given that he won election by less than ten votes, I’d like to think that he’d at least be willing to listen to what these activists have to say. Ask the sheriff to publicly back a Second Amendment Sanctuary resolution as well as to publicly pledge himself not to use any resources from his office to enforce any new federal gun control schemes. If he won’t do that, then these activists should find a candidate who will.
Make these local politicians’ desire to avoid taking a stand on political issues an issue in itself, and run on a platform of being more open, transparent, and responsive to the concerns of residents. I wouldn’t run a campaign solely on the issue of the county becoming a Second Amendment Sanctuary, but I would definitely make it part of a broader push for a county government willing to stand up for its residents instead of talking down to them. Don’t just get mad, in other words. Get elected.