Friday, February 21, 2020
Sparta businessman Trent Ziegler speaks before a standing-room-only crowd at a Second Amendment sanctuary information meeting Wednesday at Jake’s Northwood’s in Sparta. Ziegler is leading the grassroots effort to get the county board to pass a resolution designating Monroe County as a Second Amendment sanctuary. Herald photos by Pat Mulvaney

Gun-control opponents pack the house

Over 300 citizens attend info meeting on designating Monroe County as Second Amendment sanctuary

It was standing room only Wednesday night at Jake’s Northwoods in Sparta where around 350 people showed up for an informational session on designating Monroe County a Second Amendment sanctuary.

Sparta businessman Trent Ziegler is leading the grassroots effort to get county board supervisors to support a resolution identifying the county as just that. 

According to Ziegler, a Second Amendment sanctuary refers to states, counties and municipalities that have adopted laws to prohibit or impede the enforcement of certain gun-control measures perceived to violate the Second Amendment. Only one other Wisconsin county, Florence, has passed a Second Amendment sanctuary resolution, but other counties and municipalities in the state, as well as other states, either have or are taking steps to secure the designation for themselves.

On Monday, Ziegler took his resolution to the Monroe County Public Safety & Justice Coordinating Committee meeting where members voted 5-0 to forward it to the county board, which will vote on at its Feb. 26 meeting.

While the measure is largely symbolic, Ziegler says it will send a message to state and federal policy makers that “here in Monroe County we take the Second Amendment very seriously and we oppose any unconstitutional changes to it.”

He alluded the Virginia’s recent gun-control legislation, which narrowly passed in the House of what is a Democrat-controlled state government. The bill would require any owner of a semi-automatic rifle it classifies as an “assault weapon,“ including AR-15 rifles, to register the weapon with government authorities by 2021. It would also make magazines of over twelve rounds and silencers illegal. The Bill has yet to go before the state Senate.

“We have to understand that we are always potentially one election away from Wisconsin becoming the next Virginia or possibly worse,” said Zeigler, encouraging the crowd to vote only for candidates who are pro-Second Amendment. 

Monroe County Sheriff Wes Revels and District Attorney Kevin Croninger also spoke at the gathering.

Revels recited the Second Amendment, saying he and most other public servants, including county board supervisors, took an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution as well as the Wisconsin Constitution, which also gives citizens the right to keep and bear arms.

While he admitted there are unfortunate incidents involving firearms, he insists “there is no way to legislate evil out of the hearts and minds of those individuals who commit those evil acts.”

He added that legislative efforts should be aimed at keeping firearms out of criminals’ hands and not at punishing responsible gun owners.

Revels also cautioned against “legislative creep”, the chipping away of individual rights, which in this case concerns gun-control measures like Red Flag laws. One of his concerns, he said, is the lack of due process that could restrict citizens from possessing guns based on complaints from disgruntled neighbors or partners, or social media posts someone views as dangerous.

He also is concerned for law enforcement officers who have to follow court orders and confiscate an individual’s firearms.

Revels said the First Amendment, which provides for freedom of the press, free speech and the right to assemble, and the Second Amendment were ‘no brainers” for the founding fathers.

“The First Amendment is first for a reason,” he said. “The Second Amendment is just in case the First Amendment doesn’t work.”

Croninger disputed arguments against the need for a Second Amendment sanctuary resolution, such as America has a gun violence problem.

He said America and Monroe County don’t have a gun violence problem, but they do have a problem with drugs and mental health. Spending money on gun control, he added, is a misallocation of funds, diverting dollars from mental health, drug treatment, job training and other things that help people.

He’s also challenged the contention a Second Amendment Sanctuary resolution could lead to anarchy, and gun owners disobeying the law.

“Most people who believe in the Second Amendment believe in the rule of law,” Croninger said. “They’re people who abide by the law, who want to abide by the law and all they’re asking is to not be made a criminal for doing something they have the right to do.”

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