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PI sheriff won’t take guns under red-flag law

ROGERS CITY — Presque Isle County Sheriff Joseph Brewbaker said he would not remove guns from a resident’s home under a red-flag law, even if such a law was enacted in the state.

Brewbaker said he believes a red flag law goes against the U.S. Constitution. He says constitutional rights, including the amendments, is what he enforces as a sheriff and is what he was sworn in to do.

“That would be going against an amendment in my opinion,” he said.

Brewbaker publicly expressed his support for the Second Amendment sanctuary movement last week, following the Presque Isle County Board of Commissioners approval of a resolution declaring the county a Second Amendment sanctuary.

But sheriffs and prosecutors in other counties have been hesitant to get behind resolutions that would make them a Second Amendment sanctuary. A statement issued by Alcona County Prosecutor Thomas Weichel and Sheriff Scott Stephenson on Monday said it would not be appropriate for them to make “a declaratory decision on unknown future scenarios.”

The resolution is non-binding. All governments must follow the Constitution, and both state law and federal law trump local ordinances.

Michigan does not have a red flag law, however, red flag laws have been implemented in other states, such as Virginia. Many lawmakers have pushed for such changes after deadly mass shootings in recent years.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has expressed support for so-called red flag laws, which allow judges to temporarily take away someone’s firearms if they are ruled a danger to themselves or others. It also prevents that person from legally purchasing a gun during that time.

Brewbaker said deputies have removed guns from homes “for safekeeping” in situations where there was a mental health issue or for a complaint, such as a domestic violence complaint, but it was done at the officers discretion.

He said if the person refuses to voluntarily give deputies their guns due to the issue police are there for, deputies would contact the prosecutor and get an order from the prosecutor which could result in a warrant.

If the officers are responding to mental health complaints, Brewbaker said they are able to help people get the care they need. He says sometimes weapons are surrendered while an officer is following up on a complaint.

“If there has been a crime committed, we follow through with that, and if it requires taking weapons until the case is resolved, that’s what we do,” he said.

Under a red flag law, Brewbaker said a person could be flagged “because somebody made a statement.” He said many people who supported the Second Amendment sanctuary on Friday felt their due process would be taken away.

In the meantime, Brewbaker said the department will continue to operate the same way.

“Our jobs as sheriffs and prosecutors don’t change because of the sanctuary resolution,” he said. “We’re going to do our (jobs) the same. It puts no restrictions on us or changes our duties at all. I’m still sworn by the Constitution to uphold the amendments – all of them – and that’s what I’m going to do as long as I’m sheriff.”

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

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