By Eric Harrold
At the most recent Todd County Commissioners meeting back on Wednesday, April 7th, the Second Amendment Sanctuary was again on the agenda. At the previous meeting in March, it was also on the agenda, but was discussed prior to the arrival of its primary proponent, Commissioner Dave Assman. That discussion included comments from Marshall Tinant, Patsy Valandra, and Vi Waln, all of whom expressed no interest in taking up the matter for a vote.
At last Wednesday’s meeting, Assman tried unsuccessfully to persuade fellow commissioners that it would be in the best interest of the county to draft a resolution similar to those passed in Bennett and Fall River counties that express that local jurisdictions will not enforce federal laws that they view as an infringement upon citizens’ 2nd Amendment rights. His fellow commissioners appeared to be unmoved and inclined to maintain their previously stated positions on the issue.
Proponents of 2nd Amendment sanctuaries contend that duly-elected state legislators and Congressional leaders are enacting gun-control measures that local leaders of those jurisdictions have the Constitutional authority to resist under what has become perhaps the Constitution’s most frequently referenced passage. Proponents operate under the assumption that their interpretation of the 2nd Amendment is “accurate” and therefore their declarations would be upheld by the courts when faced with legal challenges. This does not appear to be likely when one considers that local jurisdictions are preempted from adopting local laws that conflict with the supremacy of federal and state law.
A couple of critical court cases surrounding the language of the 2nd Amendment are of note here. In Presser v. Illinois (1886) the court affirmed that while no entity of the federal government could control firearms, no such prohibition applied to the states. It further opined that the types of weapons protected by the 2nd Amendment were “those ‘in common use at the time’” of its ratification. Thus the military-style assault weapons and large magazines of today would not be afforded protection as determined by the Court’s majority opinion in this landmark case.
In District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), conservative Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the majority opinion, stating it is “not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” In this case, the court also confirmed that prohibitions on firearms possession by felons or the mentally ill or in certain public places such as schools, courthouses, and other government buildings were Constitutional.
So while 2nd Amendment Sanctuary resolutions would not appear to be Constitutional, the one thing they may very well be is divisive. If adopted, they remove the discretion of local law enforcement officials to act in concert with other jurisdictions should those jurisdictions feel compelled to attempt to apprehend subjects for violation of federal law involving firearms, if those local officials feel that such action would amount to infringing up on the 2nd Amendment rights of the accused, who may in fact pose a real and present danger to the public.
In a place like Todd County, where federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies have collectively taken a “lone-ranger” stance for as long as anyone can remember, a 2nd Amendment Sanctuary resolution just might be the death knell to any collaboration between say the BIA, state highway patrol, and Mission police.
Second Amendment Sanctuary declarations really do not change anything. After all, local jurisdictions are not legally obligated to provide resources for the enforcement of federal laws. Furthermore, local authories aren’t even obligated to give a reason for their reluctance in such matters, although most of them lay claim to insufficient funding and personnel resources, if they were so inclined.
Pictured from left to right is, Kathryn Iron Shell, TC sophomore, Karen Iron Shell, Jennifer Iron Shell, Kelsey Iron Shell. They attended the South Dakota American Legion District 2 meeting held in Martin on Sunday, April 11.