By Tom Hintgen

Otter Tail County Correspondent

County commissioners, on Sept. 28, told sanctuary county proponents that the county board does not have the authority to interpret the Second Amendment and would not vote on the issue of enacting a sanctuary county.

At the same time, they told proponents it is within their rights to be passionate about the Second Amendment.

County board members emphasized, however, that the sanctuary county issue is not part of their regular agenda criteria of local issues pertinent to Otter Tail County.

These resolutions, adopted by several counties across the nation, are designed to encourage counties to stop from enforcing certain gun-control measures that some residents believe are contrary to the Second Amendment.

Two of those measures are expanded background checks and red flag laws. Currently, those two measures have been approved by the Minnesota House but not in the state Senate.

County Board Chairman Lee Rogness said it is the duty of the court system, not county government, to determine what is or what is not constitutional.

This issue related to Second Amendment sanctuary status was taken up on Jan. 28, 2020, by the Otter Tail County Internal Services Committee.

It was determined that this matter would continue to be taken under advisement while also monitoring legislative activity relating to gun laws. In addition, the county waited for completion of research and guidance from the Minnesota County Attorney’s Association.

Opponents of sanctuary counties emphasize that it is improper for counties to circumvent state laws and federal laws. They add that it is false to imply that people residing is sanctuary counties are not subject to certain laws.

County commission agenda policies

In December 2020 the five-person county board of commissioners passed a proclamations and resolutions policy. 

In short, the policy says that the county board will focus on issues that the board is responsible for such as roads, bridges, public health, public safety, economic development and natural resources.

Members of the county board, while wholeheartedly supporting the U.S. Constitution, says it has limited authority and cannot pass symbolic resolutions about the Second Amendment or other topics such as school choice, immigration, mask mandates and a host of other topics.

“It’s our policy to stay in our lane,” says County Board Chairman Lee Rogness.

Board members also emphasize that counties and other local units of government “are creatures of the state” from which they derive all powers. The county, in reality, is an administrative subdivision of the state of Minnesota.

“It is inappropriate to mislead the public by pretending we have some authority over laws that are passed at the state or federal levels,” Rogness added.