Polk County Republicans have picked up a cause that was put on hold in the spring when the pandemic hit. After gathering signatures over the weekend in support of making Polk County a Second Amendment Designated County, the group aims to take the resolution before the Polk County Commission in the coming weeks.

Sherry Hoaas, the chairperson of the Polk County GOP, said that, in an anxious, unsettled year, a Polk County Second Amendment Designated County resolution would aim to express a commitment to the U.S. Constitution. The resolution wouldn't do anything by itself, she said - but should the question of Second Amendment rights ever arise in Polk County, the framework laid by the county commission's vote would be there.

"Everybody gets a little nervous, because it just seems like the Constitution is getting chipped away at," Hoaas said. "And we very much want to support the entire Constitution."

Second Amendment Designated Counties, more commonly known as Second Amendment Sanctuary Counties, began gaining traction early this year after representatives of the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus began urging Minnesotans to stand against gun control laws commonly known as red flag laws.

Red flag laws give law enforcement and concerned relatives the means to petition a court to have guns temporarily removed from a person deemed to be a risk to themselves or others. Such a law passed the Minnesota House of Representatives early this spring, but stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate in March.

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By passing Second Amendment Sanctuary resolutions, county commissioners essentially state their intent to refuse to use local resources to restrict the Second Amendment, including enforcement of red flag laws.

Roseau County became the first Second Amendment Sanctuary County on Feb. 12. According to the Minnesota Gun Caucus website, Roseau County was followed by eight other counties in passing similar resolutions. The website states that resolutions have been introduced in five additional counties, and advocates for the Second Amendment are organizing in an additional 35 counties.

Hoaas said such a resolution in Polk County has been in the works since the spring, but like so much else, it was derailed by the pandemic. In the months since, with the George Floyd protests and talk of defunding the Minneapolis Police Department, she said she believed it was time to revisit the Second Amendment Dedicated County petition.

"Law and order is what makes this country," Hoaas said. "Call that a partisan statement or not, it certainly shouldn't be. We live here for our freedom and our liberty. If you start chipping away and taking away the Second Amendment, when the First Amendment has been challenged, with freedom of speech, it feels like people can't say anything, you've gotten to a place where it's kind of getting ugly."

The outdoor event this weekend in Mentor gave them the opportunity to collect signatures for the petition, which Hoaas said she intends to present to the county commissioners to show support for the movement in Polk County.

She said she hadn't had the chance to count how many signatures the petition received over the weekend, but she estimated it was about 100.

The petition has not yet been put on any county commission agenda.