Proposed Second Amendment resolution sparks debate at county board meeting

Benton County Courthouse

By Jim Magdefrau

VINTON – A resolution regarding Second Amendment rights sparked concerns from the Benton County Attorney at the Benton County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday, Sept. 21, at the service center in Vinton.

Benton County Sheriff Ron Tippett presented the resolution for discussion, which he said is based on a resolution approved in Hardin County. He wanted to see if the board was interested in doing this.

A motion to approve the resolution from Supervisor Gary Bierschenk drew a quick response from Benton County Attorney David Thompson.

When Bierschenk said, “so move,” Thompson asked, “Really? Without any discussion? Are you kidding me?”

Bierschenk said he had read the resolution. Thompson pointed the resolution was just handed to him. He told Bierschenk, “Without looking at it, tell me what it says.”

Thompson asked if they had run this by anyone else, such as the county attorney’s office and Heartland Insurance. He asked, “Have you thought about how it might impact other county policies and other county resolutions?”

“So moved? That’s a joke sir,” Thompson said to Bierschenk. “And a bad one at that.”

Supervisor Richard Primmer recommended the county attorney look this over. Primmer also said he would email a copy to Heartland.

Tippett insisted this was brought to the board to look at, and then they would need to do their homework on it. Thompson asked why homework wasn’t done on this before it was brought to the board room.

Thompson said there a lot of rights out there. “Are we going to adopt some resolutions to support those too? How about religious freedom? Are we to have a resolution to support that next week? Free speech? A right to vote? We have all kinds of them out there.”

Thompson said he’d like time to look this over.

Bierschenk asked, “Are you advocating that we not allow firearms?”

“That is a crazy question,” Thompson answered. “What authority do you have as a board member to go against a constitutional amendment?” He asked if the board was going to pass resolutions every week to support other laws and constitutional rights that are already on the books.

Thompson said he’d look at it. He stressed his objection was not to the resolution per se, but how the county is proceeding with matters like this.

PROPOSED RESOLUTION

WHEREAS, the right of people to keep and bear arms is guaranteed as an individual right under the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed,” and
WHEREAS, the right of the people to keep and bear arms for the defense of life, liberty, and property is regarded as an inalienable right by the people of BENTON County, Iowa, and
WHEREAS, the people of BENTON County, Iowa derive economic benefit from all safe forms of firearms, recreation, hunting, and shooting conducted with BENTON County using all types of firearms allowable under the United States Constitution and the laws of the State of Iowa; and
WHEREAS, the BENTON County Board of Supervisors was elected to represent the citizens of BENTON County, and have sworn by their Oath of Office to uphold the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Iowa, and
WHEREAS, Iowa State Senators and State Representatives have also sworn by their Oath of Office to uphold the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Iowa, and
WHEREAS, legislation is currently being considered and expected to be proposed by both the Iowa State Legislature and the Federal Legislature the potentially seeks to infringe on the constitutionally protected right of citizens to keep and bear arms; and
WHEREAS, it is desirable to declare that BENTON County is a Second Amendment Sanctuary County, as BENTON County opposes the enactment of any legislation that would infringe upon the constitutional right of the people of BENTON County to keep and bear arms.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the BENTON County Board of Supervisors herby declares BENTON County to be a Second Amendment Sanctuary County, and hereby states its opposition to the enactment of any legislation that would infringe upon the constitutional right of the people of BENTON County to keep and bear arms.

DEBATE ON RESOLUTION

Other business

The board approved a Class C Wine Permit for 42 North Winery LLC.

The board acknowledged the resignation of Darien Smothers as a full-time correctional officer.

The board talked with the sheriff about hiring bonuses for new employees at the jail.

A resolution was reviewed, modifying exclusionary coverages of Heartland Insurance Risk Pool Policies to provide coverage for civil technical infractions under Iowa Code Section 39A.6. It was approved after reviewed by Thompson.

Stuart Towe and Jim Hemesath from Florence Township met with the board about Local Option Sales and Service Tax (LOSST) to help pay for a new pumper truck.

The board acknowledged the appointment and set the salary for assistant county attorney Megan Hall. Her salary is $75,000.

The board discussed courthouse clock assessment and repairs. Thompson said they don’t really know what is wrong with the clock, except that it is running really fast. The clock committee and historical preservation board met. They agreed a clock expert will look at it and make an estimate. The board granted permission for this. The clock was restored six years ago.

Primmer reported on the Heartland Insurance Risk Pool’s approach to mandated vaccines. This might impact federal funds for Benton County.

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