HART — No Second Amendment Sanctuary will be attached to Oceana County’s name following action by the Oceana County Board of Commissioners Thursday at its regular meeting in Hart.
Instead, the county board went on record as supporting the Second Amendment and not use of the word “sanctuary.” The move took two votes as the first vote that would have named the county a sanctuary county as originally presented in January failed in a 4-3 vote.
Commissioners Bob Walker, Larry Byl and Dean Gustafson and Chairman Denny Powers voted against the original resolution while commissioners Andy Sebolt, Martha Meyette and Jim Brown voted to approve it.
After the first vote failed, Walker offered some language changes that removed the word “sanctuary” in two places from the original resolution, and it passed unanimously. Sebolt, however, said following the vote that he would have preferred to keep the word “sanctuary” in the adopted resolution.
Sebolt presented the original resolution in January, and it was referred to the law and safety committee for review. He said at that time, a group had recently formed in Michigan after seeing proposed legislation in Virginia, such as red flag laws, that if approved would place more and more restrictions on gun ownership.
The Mason County Board of Commissioners, at its regular meeting on Tuesday night in Ludington, was approached during public comment about considering a resolution to be a Second Amendment Sanctuary County by Herb Stenzel. Board Chair Janet Andersen directed the matter to the county’s rules committee.
Most of those attending the Jan. 23 and Feb. 13 standing room-only meetings of the Oceana County Board of Commissioners encouraged the board to adopt the original resolution as presented with the language including “sanctuary” in it. Lori Green of Weare Township said Michigan House Bill 4283, pending in the state legislature, would prohibit certain people from possessing firearms. She also said the Oceana County Republican Party had endorsed the original sanctuary county resolution and encouraged the board to adopt it.
Michael Cook of Golden Township presented the board with an additional 225 signatures supporting the original resolution, bringing the total number of signatures of those wanting the original resolution adopted to approximately 750.
Everet Horton of Pentwater also encouraged the board to adopt the original resolution. He said when he applied for his concealed weapons permit he went through the “meat grinder” and that “red flag” laws are being introduced again. Red flag laws are described as “a gun control law that permits police or family members to petition a state court to order the temporary removal of firearms from a person who may present a danger to others or themselves.”
He added that the only recourse for people opposed to certain laws is to take the matter to court and that he couldn’t afford it.
“If we keep allowing our legislators to sidestep the Constitution, we’re on a slippery slope people,” Horton said.
Only one person speaking at the Feb. 13 meeting encouraged the board not to adopt the original resolution. A Pentwater Township woman pointed out the county is a tourism and agricultural community and such a resolution might turn off tourists and guest workers from coming to the area to visit or work.
“We are a county that relies on tourist dollars,” the woman said. “Controversy is not good for business.”