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2nd Amendment issue draws crowd

ESCANABA — Officials and residents shared their thoughts on a proposed resolution related to Second Amendment rights during a Delta County Board committee of the whole meeting Tuesday. Over 100 people attended the meeting, which focused on a proposal to make Delta County a “sanctuary county” for the Second Amendment.

The proposal was previously discussed at the county board’s Nov. 25 meeting. At that meeting, Commissioner David Moyle shared an early draft of the proposed resolution.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Moyle read an updated version. Under the resolution, Delta County would be declared a Second Amendment sanctuary county; furthermore, the board would support the county’s sheriff and prosecuting attorney in the exercise of their discretion to not enforce unconstitutional firearms laws.

During the meeting, Moyle also apologized for a Second Amendment-related Facebook post he had made. In the post, he had commented on the intelligence of someone who disagreed with what he had to say on the subject.

“As this started, I had overreacted to a county resident’s post on Facebook, and I wanted to let that person know — I contacted them on Messenger and apologized. I think it adds sincerity that I take my medicine in public. This is an emotional issue, so I just wanted to tell that individual again it was out of character and it wasn’t appropriate, and I apologize again,” he said.

After Moyle’s reading of the proposed resolution, other county board members expressed their thoughts. Commissioner

Gerard Tatrow was in favor of adopting the proposal, but wanted to ensure it would be strong enough to accomplish what it was intended to do.

“If the state should do something like they’re trying to do in Virginia, does this resolution protect us against that?,” he asked, referring to recent efforts in Virginia’s legislature to establish “red flag laws.”

Tatrow said he wanted legal counsel to review the proposed resolution, which Moyle agreed with.

“I expected this to go in front of a lawyer,” Moyle said.

Board Chair Patrick Johnson asked if adopting the proposed resolution could put Delta County at financial risk if legislation the proposal is meant to protect county residents from is adopted by the state.

“Would they say ‘okay, that PILT money you guys are such a big fan of — we’re going to cut that out?,'” he asked, noting he agreed with Moyle and felt the county should be willing to take a financial hit if need be.

Delta County’s state legislators addressed Johnson’s question during the meeting. On a conference call, State Sen. Ed McBroom said he did not expect the state government to retaliate against Second Amendment sanctuary counties in the foreseeable future.

“At least for the next four years, I can’t envision that you would have any sort of thing to worry about. There’s nothing coming from the Senate side of things that you would have to be worried about at all,” he said.

State Rep. Beau LaFave also called into the meeting and expressed enthusiasm towards the proposal.

“Your intuition that I would support this is 100 percent accurate. I took an oath to defend the Michigan Constitution, and Article One, Section Six of the Michigan Constitution says ‘every person has a right to keep and bear arms for the defense of himself and the state’ — period,” he said.

Board members heard area residents’ opinions, as well. The majority of the people who spoke strongly supported the proposal.

“Today, we find ourselves in a position that the founders of this great country foresaw and implemented measures to guard against. Our federal and our state governments have outgrown their intended purpose and have become overreaching and tyrannical,” Escanaba resident Robert Petersen — who spoke on behalf of the Delta County Gun Owners Association — said.

Additionally, Petersen addressed Tatrow’s concerns about the proposal’s strength.

“The resolution you have in front of you gains its teeth through the citizens … if we back you folks up strong, then that gives it some teeth,” he said.

Another person who spoke in favor of the proposal during the meeting was Delta Conservation District Executive Director Rory Mattson.

“I’m just speaking for myself tonight, but I would encourage you to pass this resolution,” he said.

He added Second Amendment rights are particularly important to Delta County’s residents.

“I think, per capita, Delta County has the largest (number of) CPL holders in the state of Michigan,” Mattson said.

Not everyone who spoke at Tuesday’s meeting was in favor of the proposed resolution. Ford River Township resident Teresa Ross said there are restrictions on gun ownership that are not infringements of the Second Amendment, quoting the late Antonin Scalia’s majority opinion on the Supreme Court case “District of Columbia v. Heller.”

“Liberals don’t like the Heller decision because it expanded gun rights, but the ruling still acknowledged limits that some gun rights advocates now apparently want to disregard,” she said.

She also expressed her doubts that the proposed resolution would be able to achieve its goals if adopted.

“I believe that this action is actually going to hurt your cause, rather than help it,” Ross said.

Candace Swetkis, of Escanaba, who said she is a hunter and a gun owner, was unsure why the proposed resolution would be needed.

“Why in the world is this necessary — is Virginia causing us to do this? Are there laws being proposed in the state legislature that are causing us to think that we need to have protection for our gun rights?,” she asked.

She also questioned Moyle’s reference to the Fourth and Sixth Amendments in a letter to the editor printed in the Daily Press.

“The fourth amendment is search and arrest warrants. The sixth amendment is right to a fair trial. Are those being threatened, too?,” Swetkis asked.

In the meeting’s closing moments, Moyle thanked attendees for coming and reiterated his belief in the importance of protecting Second Amendment rights.

“I believe there are forces coming together … I can’t tell you where they are, I can’t say they’re Illuminati. They used to be very quiet; now, they’re getting more open about things. They want to ban things that don’t threaten Americans on a daily basis. When three times the amount of people are killed with hammers than are by Armalite rifles, what the hell’s the big deal, then?,” he said.

As Tuesday’s meeting was a committee of the whole meeting, no official decisions were made. County board members did agree to put the proposed resolution on the agenda for the board’s Feb. 4 meeting.

Depending on what information legal counsel provides, an additional work meeting on the proposal may or may not be held before then.

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