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Roseau County becomes Second Amendment 'sanctuary'

Minnesota state lawmakers have asked multiple counties to adopt the status.

Roseau County has declared itself a Second Amendment “sanctuary county,” joining hundreds of jurisdiction across the country.

The Roseau County Board of Commissioners voted on a resolution giving the county the designation Tuesday, which per a press release from the New House Republicans Caucus (NHRC) "will allow the county to refuse to send officers" to enforce gun laws it deems unconstitutional.

“… the Roseau County Board Commissioners wishes to express its deep commitment to the rights of all citizens of Roseau County to keep and bear arms…” the resolution read.

It pledges "to oppose ... any efforts in the future to unconstitutionally restrict such rights, and to use such legal means at its disposal to protect the rights of the citizens of Roseau County to keep and bear arms, including through legal action, the power to appropriate public funds, the right to petition for redress of grievances, and the power to direct the law enforcement and employees of Roseau County to not enforce any future unconstitutional law."

Second Amendment Sanctuary cities and counties have popped up across the country, and the NHRC, 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.

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.

Among the laws the NHRC says Roseau County could choose not to enforce as a result of its resolution include "Red Flag" laws, which have been proposed – but not passed – in the Minnesota Legislature in recent years.

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.

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The letter from Rep. Kurt Daudt to Sherburne County also cites universal background checks and bans on sporting rifles as infringing on Second Amendment rights and a reason to adopt sanctuary status.

Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, also wrote a letter to the Otter Tail and Douglas county boards last month asking them to become sanctuary counties. Franson was joined by other representatives and senators from those counties. 

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

In fact, 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.

The use of "Second Amendment sanctuaries" recalls so-called "sanctuary cities," where law enforcement does not stop residents in the street solely to inquire as to their immigration status, and don't automatically inform Immigration and Customs Enforcement when they have an undocumented immigrant in custody.

The existence of sanctuary cities have been widely opposed by Republican lawmakers.

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