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Montmorency County OKs gun rights resolution

News Photo by Crystal Nelson Montmorency County Veterans Service Officer Rick Vinton on Wednesday asked the county board of commissioners to approve a resolution that would make the county a Second Amendment sanctuary at the county courthouse in Atlanta.

ATLANTA — The Montmorency County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday joined several other counties in Northeast Michigan in becoming a Second Amendment sanctuary.

By passing the resolution, the board affirms its support for the Sheriff and the Prosecutor “in the exercise of their sound discretion to not enforce against any citizen an unconstitutional firearms law.”

Commissioners approved the resolution 3 to 2 with Chairman Bert LaFleche and Commissioner Gary Girardin casting the dissenting votes. Vice Chairman Daryl Peterson and Commissioners Don Edwards and Dave Wagner voted in favor of the resolution.

Rick Vinton, the veterans service officer for the county, asked commissioners to pass the resolution to declare the county a second amendment sanctuary. Vinton said Montmorency County is filled with residents who are hunters, sport shooters and “everyday Americans willing to defend their life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.”

“Red-flag laws will be introduced shortly, making hundreds of thousands of Americans vulnerable to being guilty without due process,” he said.

Many of those who have spoken at meetings in Northeast Michigan, have concerns red-flag laws also violate their Fourteenth Amendment right to due process.

Several other counties have considered similar resolutions after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer expressed support for so-called red-flag laws that allow judges to temporarily take away someone’s firearms if they’re ruled a danger to themselves or others.

Alpena County has tabled a vote on a Second Amendment sanctuary resolution until later this month, while Presque Isle County approved the resolution in a split vote. Alcona County unanimously passed a resolution declaring its support for the Second Amendment but excluded the word “sanctuary” from the resolution.

The resolutions are non-binding. All governments must abide by the Constitution, and federal law trumps both state law and local ordinances.

Prosecutor Vicki Kundinger told commissioners her role is to serve as the chief law enforcement officer for the county and pointed out that none of them asked for her opinion on the resolution. Kundinger said commissioners “should not be in the business of interpreting the Constitution.”

Kundinger told commissioners she hopes they have read the cases cited in the resolution, knows what the group supporting the resolution is about and whether or not they support assault weapon bans and any kind of restrictions on mental health.

“If you decide to pass it, at least have a clear understanding of what you’re passing, what’s in these cases and what the group that you’re supporting is all about,” she said. “The last thing… is the second amendment is not the only amendment of the U.S. Constitution and so, I could bring forth lots of things I’d like you to support – both from the U.S. Constitution and the Michigan Constitution – but that’s not your role.”

Former Montmorency County Commissioner Jim Chapman said while he understood Kundinger’s point, the greatest percentage of people in this country who use firearms use them responsibly.

Chapman spoke about his mother who attended a girls camp where she was trained, qualified for and won marksmanship medals. He said he also earned a marksmanship badge as an Eagle Scout growing up.

“The tradition of proper firearms training and use and the freedom to have firearms has been going on for decades with my family,” he said. “Without the second amendment, my mother would not have had that opportunity as a woman to participate in that sport.”

Hillman Resident Walter Elowski said his son lives in Virginia and that he gave his grandson a double barreled .410 shotgun for Christmas. Virginia is among the states that have implemented red-flag laws.

“I worked for two summers to buy that gun to pass on to my grandson,” he said. “Don’t take that away from us.”

Elowski’s comments were met with a round of applause.

Equalization Director Kevin Keller told those attending the meeting he was a former handgun instructor, a long-time member of the NRA and a hunter, fisherman and outdoorsman. However, he said a resolution “does not override state and federal law.”

“The resolution does not mean that we can’t allow federal and state to come into this county,” he said. “The only thing it’s going to do is say that this county supports the second amendment law.”

County Building Inspector Joe Stone argued Keller’s comments weren’t true.

“Our sheriff is the highest law enforcement officer and prosecutor, he can deny the feds from coming into the county,” Stone said. “That’s a right he has under the constitution.”

Sheriff Chad Brown was not immediately available for comment.

Crystal Nelson can be reached at 989-358-5687 or cnelson@thealpenanews.com.

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