Gage County’s stance on the right to bear arms led to some heated discussion Wednesday during the board’s regular meeting.
Board Chairman Erich Tiemann, a Republican is proposing a resolution for the county in support of gun rights, declaring Gage County a “Second Amendment sanctuary county.”
The resolution wouldn’t change gun rights as they currently stand, but would follow others like Cherry County in taking a stance on the hot topic.
“There’s different things happening in Washington,” Tiemann said. “More counties in Nebraska are looking at doing this as we have big changes in Washington, and we don’t necessarily want big changes here… This is more of a statement. We’re not going to be changing any law. We’re not going to be enhancing any law, but it will basically make a statement from the county that this is where we stand, if it’s approved.”
Some highlights of the resolutions include stating Gage County will not authorize: registration or tracking requirements for existing lawfully owned firearms, taxes or other fees that are not on other goods, the prohibition of non-fully automatic firearms, the prohibition of certain firearm accessories, registration and background requirements beyond what’s customarily required.
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The resolution also states that any act by Congress that, “infringes on the people’s right to keep and bear arms in Gage County, Nebraska shall be considered null and void by the county and not recognized by this county.”
The proposal was met with opposition from board member Don Schuller, a Democrat. Schuller said he supports the Second Amendment and is a gun owner and hunter himself, but questions why the county would pass a resolution based on a national issue.
“I am a supporter of the second amendment, it’s just that I feel this is unnecessary,” he said. “We could bring up many other constitutional rights perhaps we ought to pass a resolution on. I might have one of my own.”
Specifically, Schuller recalled before he was on the County Board when he tried getting the board to approve a resolution related to the Beatrice 6 and asking the state to contribute to the $28.1 million federal judgment against Gage County.
“Through experience, there have been some resolutions I’ve asked for personally before being on the board that was not passed by this board and it dealt with local issues that were important to us, one of them being the Beatrice 6,” he said. “When I asked the governor to consider to budget for our judgment, It was just a resolution, but I didn’t get any support on it. I did it myself. So when it comes to doing something like this nationally, for something that I don’t feel is necessary because some people think there is a threat, seems to be far-fetched for what a County Board should be doing.”
Regarding Sculler’s Beatrice 6 resolution, Tiemann responded that the board was limited on what it could say and do while the litigation was pending.
“You didn’t get support, you actually got strong opposition from the board,” Tiemann said. “We talked to the state senator about that as well and we’ve had conversations with the governor, the speaker of the house and other members of the legislature. At that point in time we were working on things the public didn’t see so you weren’t privy to it. A lot of that stuff does work for months, years in the background before some things come to fruition.”
The board is expected to discuss the resolution again before taking a vote at its next meeting, where the public can comment. The next meeting will be Wednesday, March 10 at 8:45 a.m. at the Gage County Courthouse