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Sawyer County’s Public Safety Committee voted July 2 to recommend that the county board of supervisors adopt a resolution affirming citizens’ rights to keep and bear firearms under the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and under the Wisconsin Constitution.

If the resolution is passed at the board’s July 16 meeting, Sawyer County would join seven other Wisconsin counties and one city that have passed similar resolutions.

The Wisconsin Constitution states, “The people have the right to keep and bear arms for security, defense, hunting, recreation or any other lawful purpose.”

The resolution says “There are concerns surrounding the constitutionality of any legislation that would infringe the right to keep and bear arms and ban the possession and use of certain firearms, magazines, ammunition or body armor now employed by individual citizens for defense of life, liberty and property, or would otherwise require a firearms owner I.D. card or tax the possession of firearms or ammunition within the county.”

The resolution says the county will “Not support any actions that could infringe on constitutional rights of citizens of Sawyer County,” and the county ”opposes the enactment of any state or federal legislation that would infringe upon” citizens’ constitutional rights.

The resolution also affirms that the county will support the sheriff and deputies “in protecting our rights.” 

Counties that have passed similar resolutions to date are Monroe, Rusk, Washburn, Vilas, Oneida, Langlade and Florence, plus the City of Merrill.

An initiator of the Sawyer County resolution, Fred Briggs, said, “We have quite a bit of support out there,” including 750 Sawyer County residents via a Facebook group.

Committee chairman James Schlender Jr. said he supports the resolution. He added that “our law enforcement has been under a lot of scrutiny the last couple months, and I didn’t want anything in the resolution telling them how to do their job. I commend the sheriff for the job that he does. I trust him and his deputies to conduct themselves appropriately to enforce the laws that are necessary and conduct themselves with respect in representing our interests.”

Town of Edgewater landowner Linda Zillmer told the committee that she is “not in favor” of this resolution “for a whole host of reasons. Sawyer County supervisors have already sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution; there is no need for such a resolution in that respect.”

Zillmer said she is in favor of “reasonable regulation that respects constitutional rights but also provides public safety protection from the increasing number of fatalities and mass shootings.”

She said the Town of Edgewater “has been the scene of a number of tragedies involving firearms that demonstrate need for better regulation.”

Committee member Dale Schleeter asked, “What is it that the members of this group expect to gain from this resolution? What is the definition of a (gun) sanctuary county?”

Wisconsin Counties Association attorney Rebecca Roeker said sanctuary county “is not defined in the statutes. It’s a matter of how the governmental unit wants to define that term,” consistent with the constitution and state laws.

Schlender said that “It’s not a fluff resolution. It’s an affirmation, a rededication to the principles of what the Second Amendment represents. We have the right to defend our way of life.”

Committee member Chuck Van Etten said he supports the resolution: “This is what we believe in as an entity moving forward.”

Sheriff Doug Mrotek said he has “no problems or issues” with the resolution and supports it.

The resolution passed 4-1, with Schlender, Van Etten, Ron Buckholtz and Helen Dennis in favor and Schleeter opposed.


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