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GOP lawmakers press for first Minn. ‘Second Amendment sanctuary’

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Several leading Republican lawmakers in Minnesota are asking officials in Sherburne County to “provide leadership” on gun-owner rights by designating their central Minnesota county the state’s first “Second Amendment sanctuary.”

A letter to the Sherburne County Board of Commissioners on Monday, signed by Rep. Shane Mekeland, R-Clear Lake, and five other lawmakers, cited “Anti-Second Amendment legislation” making headlines around the country.

“With this backdrop, we respectfully urge the Sherburne County Board of Commissioners to adopt language that would make its jurisdiction a Second Amendment sanctuary county,” they wrote. House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, was among three Republican House members and three GOP senators who signed the letter.

All six represent districts in Sherburne County, which runs from Elk River to St. Cloud, northwest of the Twin Cities.

Second Amendment sanctuaries refer to states, counties, or localities that have adopted laws or resolutions designed to impede enforcement of gun control measures that pro-gun activists deem contrary to the Second Amendment. Targets often include universal gun background checks and red flag laws that Democrats have introduced in Congress and in the Minnesota Legislature.

Mekeland’s letter came as Republicans who control the Minnesota Senate rolled out a package of pro-gun measures at a public hearing Tuesday in Hibbing. The new proposals, being readied for the upcoming session of the Legislature, include measures to carry firearms without a permit and protect gun owners who fire in self-defense.

The letter also came on the same day that thousands of gun rights activists descended on Richmond, Va., to protest new gun restrictions being prepared by that state’s new Democratic leadership.

The GOP push in Minnesota stands in sharp contrast to DFL plans to expand criminal background checks and institute “red flag” laws that would allow judges to temporarily remove guns from people deemed dangerous to themselves and others.

Both sides have vowed to make gun legislation an election issue in November, when all 201 seats in the Minnesota House and Senate are up for grabs.

Mekeland’s letter noted that 400 counties around the country have adopted Second Amendment sanctuary laws or resolutions in opposition to broader state or federal gun restrictions. The effort reflects a nationwide movement that has spread in recent years in reaction to calls for gun restrictions to stem the tide of mass shootings and other forms of gun violence. To date, no other Minnesota jurisdictions have declared themselves gun “sanctuaries.”

“We look forward to doing our part as legislators to protect and fortify the Second Amendment at the state level,” the letter reads. “In the meantime, we encourage you, as Sherburne County elected officials, to provide leadership at the county level by doing your part to uphold the Second Amendment rights our shared constituents enjoy under our cherished Constitution.”

The lawmakers also wrote that they would be willing to provide “draft language that can serve as a model for local implementation.”

Joining Mekeland and Daudt in the letter was Rep. Sondra Erickson, R-Princeton. Republican Sens. Mary Kiffmeyer, of Big Lake, Michelle Benson, of Ham Lake, and Andrew Mathews, of Princeton, also signed the letter alongside Paul Novotny, a GOP candidate for the District 30A seat opened up by former Rep. Nick Zerwas’ retirement from the Legislature.

 

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