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Commissioners pass Second Amendment resolution

By Staff | Mar 22, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has the County Commissioners meeting in the Faribault County District Courtroom to observe COVID-19 precautions set out by the CDC, including keeping a greater distance from others.

The matter of Second Amendment rights was the topic of discussion as the Faribault County Commissioners regular meeting got underway on Tuesday, March 17.

Because of the Coronavirus pandemic, the meeting was held in the District Courtroom located on the upper level of the Faribault County Courthouse. The larger room allowed for people to more effectively practice ‘social distancing.’

Brenda Baldwin, of Blue Earth, brought forth a resolution which would declare Faribault County a Second Amendment Dedicated County.

“I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you gentlemen and ladies this morning,” Baldwin stated. “I am here to defend our Second Amendment rights as guaranteed by our Constitution. So I am asking you to please vote in favor of dedicating Faribault County as a Second Amendment Sanctuary County.”

Baldwin mentioned she had been working on this since early February.

“The first thing I did was call all of you commissioners and let you know what I was doing and why I was doing it,” Baldwin continued. “I also called Sheriff Gormley and Chief Fletcher to inform them of what I was doing. I did this because I did not want any of you to feel like you were blindsided, so to speak.”

Baldwin also shared she was able to collect 688 signatures on a petition in favor of the resolution without the benefit of having the petition at the Wells Gun Show, which was cancelled.

Chairman Tom Warmka spoke first on the proposed resolution.

“We have sought legal counsel on this resolution and it was found to be unconstitutional,” Warmka said.

He then referred to a part of the resolution which stated, ‘The Faribault County Board of Commissioners will refuse to appropriate any Faribault County resources to enforce any mandate, law, policy, order, or any other directive which infringes on the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms.’

“We do not have the right to withhold funds,” Warmka explained. “We, as commissioners, take an oath to uphold all of the laws and support the constitution of the State of Minnesota and of the United States. And I cannot support this as it is currently written.”

Warmka then offered a substitute document, which was titled a ‘Symbolic Declaration of Principle.’

Among other things, the newly offered document stated the commissioners would seek to uphold all rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights, including the right to bear arms, for Faribault County citizens.

The discussion then returned to the original resolution and centered on whether the county had the right to refuse to appropriate funds.

Commissioner Lovell spoke first.

“I certainly think we do have the power to refuse to appropriate,” Lovell said. “It is a power given to us in taxation and how we spend our resources.”

Board member Greg Young spoke next.

“I agree with your point Tom,” Young commented. “My concern is the language ties our hands, and I do not think we want to do that, I do not want to take our flexibility away from us.”

Commissioner Bill Groskreutz then addressed Baldwin.

“I appreciate the process you went through with this Brenda and the fact you contacted each of us and then the work you did going through the petition process,” Groskreutz said. “It is definitely a highly politicized issue in our country, our state and our county as well. As commissioner Warmka stated, we take an oath to uphold the constitution and enforce all of the laws from the state and federal government. If there would be a law passed in the state of Minnesota by what I might say a liberal legislature, and if it was signed by the governor, I think it would immediately end up in the court system. I believe it would be the citizens who would take it to the courts rather than us as elected officials, who are charged with enforcing the laws of the state.”

Commissioner John Roper was the next commissioner to offer his opinion.

“I think you have done a wonderful job putting this together but I have a problem with the use of the word sanctuary which you used earlier,” Roper said. “I do not think that word is well suited to what we are doing. A sanctuary to me puts in mind illegal immigration so I do not like that word. But, I could support either proposal.”

Baldwin then informed the board six counties in Minnesota have already adopted this resolution.

“None of them are south of the Twin Cities metro area,” she explained. “I was really hoping we could get Faribault County to be the first one.”

The resolution was brought up for vote with commissioners Lovell and Roper voting in favor of its passage. However the resolution failed when commissioners Groskreutz, Young and Warmka voted against the resolution.

Commissioner Young then offered a resolution to change the word ‘will’ to the word ‘may’ in the section of the document which was being questioned. Following a second, the resolution passed with a unanimous vote.

The board then voted unanimously to also pass the Symbolic Declaration of Principle resolution.

“I am satisfied for right now,” Baldwin said after the resolutions were passed. “I was a little disappointed in the change they made, but it is ok for now.”