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3 more Minnesota counties become Second Amendment sanctuaries

More counties are considering similar gun protection resolutions.

There are now four counties in Minnesota that have become sanctuaries for the Second Amendment.

Last week, Roseau County became the first in Minnesota to declare itself a "sanctuary county," which, according among other things "will allow the county to refuse to send officers" to enforce gun laws it deems unconstitutional.

This week, Wadena, Clearwater and Marshall counties in northwest Minnesota passed similar Second Amendment protections, with the Pioneer Press reporting that Kittson, Pennington, Otter Tail and Mille Lacs counties have planned to vote on similar gun protection resolutions in the coming days. 

In Marshall County, the protection resolution states: "The Marshall County Board of Commissioners wishes to express opposition to any law that would restrict the constitutional rights of the citizens of Marshall County to keep and bear arms." 

The resolution adds that the county will refuse to utilize any 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." 

Second Amendment sanctuary cities and counties have popped up across the country, and the New House Republican Caucus, led by Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, has been pushing for other counties to adopt the designation in recent months.

In January, Republican state lawmakers including House Minority Leader Kurt Doubt penned a letter to the Sherburne County Board of Commissioners asking it to take up sanctuary status. The letter cites the more than 400 sanctuary counties and towns already in existence nationwide.

Status as a Second Amendment sanctuary city or county establishes that local leaders will oppose new and existing gun control legislation, even though counties and cities may have little control over laws passed at a state and national level.

However, it's been argued at the national level that becoming a Second Amendment protection county has no legal basis, as only the courts have the power to overturn a state or federal law.

Among the laws the NHRC says sanctuary counties could choose not to enforce include "Red Flag" laws, which have been proposed – but not passed – in the Minnesota Legislature in recent years.

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Such a law creates a procedure for police or family members to petition for an "extreme risk protection order," removing guns from people at risk of harming themselves and others, for example in the case of an abusive relationship, or in a mental health crisis.

Gov. Tim Walz has previously said a county declaring itself a "sanctuary" from gun laws is a "moot point" as state and federal firearms laws would be enforced anyway, per KARE 11.

Roseau County Sheriff Steve Gust meanwhile told the Pioneer Press: "My oath says I enforce state laws. They can’t stop me from that. Law enforcement officers have got an obligation."

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