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Commissioners hold hearing on proposed Second Amendment preservation ordinance
ENTERPRISE — Supporters of the Second Amendment told Wallowa County commissioners if they passed a county ordinance to preserve it, gun owners would maintain rights given to them from “The Creator.”
“We have inalienable rights from our creator to defend ourselves,” said Leo Castillo of Light Masters of Eastern Oregon.
The proponents of the ordinance presented a revised six-page document with language borrowed from a similar ordinance developed in Carroll County, Md.
Castillo said that legislation was passed which exploited the tragedy of the December shooting of 20 Sandy Hook Elementary School children and six adults in the second deadliest mass shooting in American history after the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre.
“The government is imposing on our rights instead of really caring about our safety,” Castillo said. “I want to preserve the nation I grew up in for my children. Look at what’s happening on the state and federal level. They are brushing aside our rights. They pretend the Bill of Rights does not exist, but we are not going to play that game.”
The proposed ordinance would make it a violation for any county official to not uphold the Second Amendment or expend county funds to comply with federal or state authorities seeking to remove guns from Wallowa County citizens.
“Any county who adopts this ordinance is not going to use our funds to infringe upon the rights of our citizens,” Castillo said. “We aren’t calling for anything new, just to re-establish rights in rural America, where most people understand their liberties and rights.”
Sheriff Steve Rogers said he supports the ordinance, but asked that language be clarified within it.
“In regards to the penalties, the ordinance said if an official is found in violation the maximum penalty is a Class A misdemeanor and a violation,” Rogers said. “You can only be charged with a crime or a violation.”
Commissioner Susan Roberts said she was concerned about language asking for the county court to determine if a crime had been committed when a county official did not uphold the law. The commission used to be called a court, but the term was changed more than 10 years ago, Rogers said.
Both Roberts and Rogers suggested they use the term Wallowa County Circuit Court or Court of the County to define that any infractions would be handled by a judge.
“No one in this room has the authority to terminate an elected official,” Board of Commissioners Chairman Mike Hayward said.
Rogers said he didn’t have a problem with being accountable by the citizens and not some circuit court judge.
Hayward said a draft of the proposed ordinance has been presented to two county attorneys, but the commissioners have received no feedback, to date.
The second public hearing is set for Nov. 25 at the Wallowa County Courthouse.