Proposed Constitutional Sanctuary Resolution fails due to lack of support
Tue, 02/14/2023 - 12:34pm caleb
Resolution regarding current firearm legislation and enforcement of ‘unconstitutional’ laws has verbiage not consistent with board duties, according to county officials
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
A proposed “Constitutional Sanctuary Resolution” failed to pass during a regular meeting of the Crawford County Board of Commissioners on Thursday, February 9.
During recent meetings, a few citizens have requested the board consider a sanctuary resolution as gun control bills enter the Michigan legislature, saying that the proposed legislation violates the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution and the county should not enforce “unconstitutional” laws.
Cam Jones of South Branch Township – during the first public comment period of the February 9 meeting – asked the board to “consider adopting a resolution like other counties” to send a message that Crawford County will “uphold the Constitution” and “will not enforce” a law that is “unconstitutional.” Jones said current legislation could make some gun owners “felons” if it is approved.
According to the Michigan Legislature website, http://www.legislature.mi.gov, House Bill 6544 was introduced in December of 2022.
House Bill No. 6544 – “Introduced by Rep. (Jeffrey) Pepper and referred to the Committee on Military, Veterans and Homeland Security,” according to the posted version of the document – is “a bill to ban the manufacture, possession, purchase, and sale of assault weapons; to provide certain powers and duties for certain state and local officials and agencies; to provide for the promulgation of rules; and to provide penalties.”
“Sec. 1. As used in this act, ‘assault weapon’ means a semiautomatic rifle that has an ability to accept a detachable magazine and has 1 or more of the following characteristics: (i) A pistol grip or thumbhole stock. (ii) Any feature capable of functioning as a protruding grip that can be held by the nontrigger hand. (iii) A folding or telescoping stock. (iv) A shroud that is attached to, or partially or completely encircles, the barrel and that permits the shooter to hold the firearm with the nontrigger hand without being burned, but excluding a slide that encloses the barrel. Sec. 2. (1) Except as otherwise provided in this section, beginning January 1, 2024, a person shall not manufacture, possess, purchase, or sell an assault weapon in this state. (2) A person may continue to possess an assault weapon that the person legally possessed before the effective date of this act if both of the following apply: (a) The person registers the assault weapon with the department of state police in compliance with rules adopted for that purpose by the department of state police. (b) The person renews the registration of the assault weapon every 5 years. (3) A person who violates subsection (1) is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 5 years,” according to the version of House Bill No. 6544 posted on the Michigan Legislature website.
Dan Bonamie of Beaver Creek Township, during the public comment period, said legislation could take guns “from law abiding citizens” and make some weapons “illegal” by classifying them as “assault weapons.” Bonamie said 48 counties in Michigan have approved sanctuary resolutions and asked the board to consider passage of one.
District #3 Commissioner Shelly Pinkelman said the county board already passed a resolution a few years affirming its allegiance to the Constitution.
“We’ve already agreed upon all of that before,” Commissioner Pinkelman said.
Later in the meeting, District #2 Commissioner Dorothy A. Frederick moved to approve a “Constitutional Sanctuary Resolution” and presented copies of the document to the board. Pinkelman supported the motion for purposes of “discussion.”
Commissioner Frederick said the proposed “Constitutional Sanctuary Resolution” has “more strength to it” and is “more specific to the Second Amendment (of the Constitution).”
The board’s “Resolution Declaring Crawford County’s Support Of The Constitution Of The United States” from February of 2020 says the “Constitution of the United States of America along with the Bill of Rights is the foundation that this nation was constructed upon; and the United States Supreme Court’s sole purpose is to defend the Constitution of the United States and its twenty-seven accompanying amendments; and the United States Constitution is the benchmark of how a free society governs itself; and the Constitution for the State of Michigan also supports the rights of the citizens and ensures the freedoms to which this nation was founded. Therefore, be it resolved, that the Crawford County Board of Commissioners supports and defends the Constitution of the United States along with the Constitution for the State of Michigan in their entirety. Be it further resolved, that this Board affirms its support for the Crawford County Sheriff and the Crawford County Prosecuting Attorney in the exercise of their sound discretion to enforce the United States Constitution and the Constitution for the State of Michigan.”
The board approved the Resolution Declaring Crawford County’s Support Of The Constitution Of The United States on February 27, 2020 with a 7-0 vote, according to the document. The current board still contains six of the seven commissioners who ratified the “Support Of The Constitution” resolution; Frederick is the only current member of the board that was not a commissioner at the time of the vote.
The “Constitutional Sanctuary Resolution” proposed by Frederick includes excerpts from the United States Constitution and the Michigan Constitution and language citing court cases about the “right to keep and bear arms.”
According to constitution.congress.gov, the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States reads: “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.”
“Any legislation passed by the Michigan Legislature and signed into law by the Governor of Michigan, or by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by the President that violates the Constitutional Rights of the citizens of Michigan and the United States is by definition Unconstitutional,” according to the proposed “Constitutional Sanctuary Resolution.”
The “Constitutional Sanctuary Resolution” proposes that Crawford County be a “sanctuary for the exercise of Constitutional Rights by the citizens of Michigan” and the United States, and “this Board will not authorize the expenditure of one cent of taxpayer funds, nor will our Sheriff direct the use of any law enforcement officer under his command to enforce any unconstitutional law” passed by the state legislature or the US Congress and signed into law.
County Administrator Paul Compo said the county board has some duties with regard to overseeing the Sheriff’s Department but it would not be “appropriate” for the board to direct the sheriff or prosecuting attorney on what they can do.
The “Constitutional Sanctuary Resolution” seeks “support of the duly elected Sheriff of Crawford County” in its proposed form.
“We’re looking for support from the sheriff. Do we have it?” Commissioner Frederick said.
“You do not,” Sheriff Ryan Swope said.
Later in the meeting, during his department report, Sheriff Swope said he “took an oath to defend the Constitution” but he has concerns about the language in the “Constitutional Sanctuary Resolution.”
“I am a true believer in the Second Amendment and all the amendments,” Sheriff Ryan Swope said.
District #1 Commissioner Laurie Jamison, Board Chair, agreed with Compo.
“We don’t have that authority. We can not adopt this resolution with this verbiage,” Commissioner Jamison said.
Commissioner Pinkelman withdrew her support of the motion.
Compo said the board could revisit its “Support Of The Constitution” resolution from 2020 and “possibly strengthen” it.