Putting the state on notice – Commission backs right to bear arms

Frank SkrahHerald and News – by Samantha Tipler

Klamath County, Oregon – Commissioners don’t want the federal or state government to tread on the Second Amendment rights of the citizens of Klamath County. But at the same time, at least two commissioners don’t want to tread on the sheriff’s ability to enforce the law and uphold the Constitution.

At their regular Tuesday meeting, the commissioners spent an hour debating a few words in a resolution letter telling the Oregon Legislature the county does not support any future laws that could restrict the citizens’ right to bear arms.  

Commission Chairman Tom Mallams wanted the specific language telling county employees not to enforce any restrictions to the Second Amendment.

“I think our state legislature is very likely to be 100 percent out of control this year,” he said, referencing the Democratic majority and his concerns that laws could be coming to restrict gun ownership or even tell law enforcement to confiscate guns.

“And Southern Oregon and Eastern Oregon, what we want, what we desire for our lifestyle and our rights, they are going to ignore us. Plain fact,” he noted.

“I will not be taking away guns from anybody. I will not be going out and confiscating guns,” said Klamath County Sheriff Frank Skrah. “People have the right to bear arms, and I will not abridge that right to bear arms. Ever. I’ll say it again: ever.”

Though commissioners Kelley Minty Morris and Jim Bellet agreed on protecting the Second Amendment, they did not want to tell the sheriff how to do his job.

“That’s been my concern from the beginning,” Minty Morris said. “That it would be inappropriate for the board to tell elected law enforcement officials, like the sheriff and district attorney, which laws they’re going to enforce and which ones they are not.”

“I don’t want law enforcement to be butting heads with a county resolution in regards to a state law,” Bellet said. “I do not want to tie the hands of our law enforcement.”

“I as a constitutional sheriff do not want to see government telling me what laws I shall enforce and what laws I shall not enforce,” Skrah said. “If you’re going to corrupt law enforcement, you’re going to tell them what to enforce and what not to enforce. The Second Amendment is there. The Second Amendment, as far as I’m concerned, stays there.”

Mallams maintained his position to include the enforcement portion of the resolution.

“If our state legislature passes a state law that I feel is unconstitutional, I think we as a commission need to take the lead and say we aren’t going to follow it,” he said. “It behooves us to stand up for the citizens of Klamath County. I think the citizens of Klamath County have a commonality of wanting to protect our rights as citizens, specifically the Second Amendment.”

Sprague River residents who came to Tuesday’s meeting agreed. They wanted tougher action from the commissioners, including asking the commissioners to write an ordinance to enforce protecting the Second Amendment.

“I am almost flabbergasted by the discussion here this morning,” said Dale Holm. “What part of the Constitution, the Second Amendment, in any way could be or should be watered down by state and federal laws?”

Holm cautioned the county from taking too soft a hand in its position on the Second Amendment.

“You might as well go out on a street corner and just clap as the state rolls in and takes away our guns,” he said. “That’s ridiculous. This should be an ordinance. It should have teeth. There should be no question whatsoever that Klamath County stands with the second amendment.”

Bellet made the motion to approve the resolution with amended wording to not include the enforcement piece. Minty Morris seconded it.

“I just don’t think that it’s appropriate for the commissioners to be telling people who took an oath to uphold the Constitution and the laws,” Minty Morris said. “I don’t think it’s appropriate for us to tell them how to do their jobs, someone that wears a badge like the sheriff and district attorney, and who is elected.”

Mallams tried to amend the motion to include the enforcement wording, but no one backed him up.

“You say we don’t want to restrict the sheriff,” he said. “Well I think we do need to restrict the sheriff. We need to restrict law enforcement to follow the Constitution.”

Mallams said he trusted Skrah to enforce the Constitution, but he didn’t know about the next sheriff.

When put to an official vote, all three commissioners approved the modified wording without the enforcement piece. Mallams did so “reluctantly,” he said.

4 thoughts on “Putting the state on notice – Commission backs right to bear arms

  1. Good luck, Henry!

    I don’t trust cops, sheriffs or any government official. But that’s just me. 😉

    Keep hold of that Second Article and the rest of the Bill of Rights.

  2. I look at it this way.. its not what he is or isnt willing to enforce ,, its what We will be willing to allow them to enforce .

    talk is cheap.. time will tell

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