Shasta Supervisors deadlocked on 2nd Amendment resolution, leaving its fate uncertain
Shasta County Supervisor Patrick Jones brought a Second Amendment resolution to Tuesday evening’s board meeting, and he was confident he had the votes to pass it.
But the fate of the resolution is in limbo after Supervisor Kevin Crye chose to abstain because he wanted to seek personal legal advice and asked for more time to decide how he will vote.
Among Crye’s concerns is whether ignoring the advice of County Counsel Rubin Cruse Jr. could expose him to personal liability.
Crye abstaining resulted in a 2-2 vote. Jones and Supervisor Chris Kelstrom voted to approve the resolution. Supervisors Tim Garman and Mary Rickert voted no.
Jones, who is the chairman of the board, was critical of Crye for abstaining, saying, “Supervisor Crye, you are paid to make decisions and a yes or no should be the appropriate response.”
Crye countered with, “I’m paid to make good decisions, well-informed decisions.”
The deadlock capped two-plus hours of public comment in a packed meeting chambers, which were festooned with red-white-and-blue balloons brought by supporters of the Second Amendment resolution who anticipated supervisors passing it.
They argued it was not a gun-rights issue, but a moral issue and passing the resolution would protect Shasta County from the “tyrannical” state of California.
Detractors countered that what the board wanted to do was an overreach and redundant because when supervisors take the oath of office, they vow to defend the Constitution and all its amendments, including the Second.
More:Déjà vu: Shasta supervisor wants to allow county employees to carry guns to work
Many who spoke out against the resolution also said they support the Second Amendment.
Supervisors at odds over how they support Second Amendment
Kelstrom said the Second Amendment is unique and deserves to be spotlighted and supported by Shasta County because it’s under siege in California.
At one point Jones argued with Shasta County Sheriff Michael Johnson over the meaning of the Second Amendment before the two agreed to disagree.
Supervisors did vote 3-2 to revisit the resolution at their March 14 meeting. Garman and Rickert voted no.
Jones and Kelstrom wanted to pass a Second Amendment resolution that in large part kept the wording brought by the California Rifle & Pistol Association, not the red-line edited version Cruse and Johnson endorsed.
Jones put more stock in the opinion of the California Rifle & Pistol Association’s legal counsel, which he characterized as experts on the Second Amendment.
Cruse said supervisors don’t have the authority to determine what is constitutional, and what the California Rifle & Pistol Association submitted would put the county in legal jeopardy. His edited version included language that said county officials have the right not to enforce any laws that violate the Second Amendment, “as determined by precedential decisions made by courts of competent jurisdiction.”
“I am for you guys passing this (resolution) but I am also for it with the edits by staff for all the legal reasons that were put forth and I could go over those again,” Johnson said.
“Like it or not, California does recognize your rights to bear arms. They do it via CCW (concealed carry weapons permits). The Supreme Court has not ruled on the opinion of open carry versus concealed carry,” the sheriff added.
Johnson said he will not let California, or any other legislative body erode the right to bear arms. But he said he will not do that if it means violating his oath or if it violates current federal or state laws.
He made some news when he announced that if the courts rule that open carry is a constitutional right, then “stand by, folks, we’ll be going to open carry.”
Johnson added that the conflict of the Second Amendment “comes down to interpretation” and those interpretations can lead to the struggles and differing opinions.
Ironically, that was on display when Jones questioned Johnson about concealed carry laws, noting that the Constitution doesn’t say you need a CCW permit.
“I don’t see anywhere in the Constitution in the Second Amendment where it says you can open carry or conceal carry,” Johnson said.
“It says you have the right to keep and bear arms, period,” Jones said.
“It doesn’t say you can walk around with it openly or concealed or anything else,” Johnson said.
“Exactly,” Jones said.
Supervisor Garman agreed with Cruse and Johnson and said endorsing the California Rifle & Pistol Association version could cost taxpayers money in legal fees to fight the courts over the issue.
“I think we owe it to our county to be fiscally responsible,” Garman said.
Supervisor Rickert called the resolution an overreach.
“I do believe in and support the Second Amendment,” she said. “As a board we don’t have the ability to interpret the Constitution to meet our own personal agenda. I’m a concealed weapons permit holder. Our family has three gun cases full of firearms.
“We can’t supersede what the courts designate,” she added.
Group demands supervisors remove 2nd Amendment resolution from agenda
About three hours before Tuesday evening’s meeting, Shasta County Citizens for Stable Government announced it had served supervisors with a cease-and-desist letter that said the Second Amendment resolution, as agendized, violated California’s open meeting law, the Brown Act.
Cruse said the item as it appeared on the agenda was not a violation of the Brown Act. He also said Jones did not have a conflict of interest by bringing the resolution to the board.
Jones helps manage his family's gun shop, Jones' Fort in east Redding.
Before the meetings, some three-dozen people signed a petition supporting the restriction of firearms in public buildings.
Jones has said he plans to bring a proposal to the board in March that would allow county employees to carry concealed weapons on county property. He said county employees have as much a right as the general public to carry at county buildings.
At the meeting, Shasta County Citizens for Stable Government spokeswoman Susanne Baremore told supervisors that including a loyalty oath for county employees in the resolution would be unconstitutional.
In the end, Jones and Kelstrom agreed to remove that clause in the resolution.
This article originally appeared on Redding Record Searchlight: Fate of 2nd Amendment resolution in Shasta County uncertain