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'Second Amendment sanctuary' status for Kootenai County draws support and opposition

Kootenai County Commissioner Leslie Duncan brought up an ordinance that would reject enforcing state or federal gun laws that seem to violate the Second Amendment.
Credit: Madison Hardy
Kootenai County Sheriff Bob Norris stood in support of protecting local residents' Second Amendment rights during a commissioner meeting Monday morning.

KOOTENAI COUNTY, Idaho — Commissioner Leslie Duncan on Monday advocated for making Kootenai County a Second Amendment sanctuary, drawing support from Sheriff Bob Norris and several residents — but not her fellow commissioners, as reported by KREM 2 News partner the Coeur d'Alene/Post Falls Press

Duncan brought up an ordinance that would reject enforcing state or federal gun laws that seem to violate the Second Amendment.

"I would just like to tell you that regardless of what you decide here today, and regardless of what they decide in Washington, D.C., there will be no gun confiscation here in Kootenai County," Norris said. "Period."

Norris noted that Idaho already has state laws that allow constitutional and peace officers not to enforce federal gun laws based on constitutionality. The law, signed by former Gov. Butch Otter effect in 2014, deemed the Idaho Federal Firearms, Magazine and Register Ban Enforcement Act, passed both sides of the statehouse unanimously. 

A trend of Second Amendment sanctuaries is popping up around the county as several bills have been introduced at the White House that would ban most semi-automatic weapons, magazines with greater than 10 round capacities, universal gun background checks, the creation of a national registry of firearms, and red flag laws.

When asked by Duncan if he would be comfortable if the board approved the ordinance, Norris said he preferred to be a Second Amendment sanctuary county without the attention of the federal government.

"But I think if they want to give us attention, I'm ready for the attention," he said.

RELATED: Robert Norris swears in as Kootenai County's new Sheriff

Commissioners Bill Brooks and Chris Fillios both referenced their support of the Second Amendment and their personal use and experience with guns. However, they opposed the idea of bringing the ordinance forward for official approval. Fillios expressed his concerns that labeling Kootenai County as a sanctuary would apply to "anyone and everyone," referencing the increase in Spokane's gang activity and Neo-Nazi groups. Brooks couldn't validate supporting the ordinance despite referencing his multiple-decade affiliation with the National Rifle Association and service as a firearm instructor. 

"I believe in the Second Amendment, I carry the open carry permit, the concealed carry permit, so does my wife. I believe in it," Brooks said. "But to do something like this, that basically makes you feel good, I can't support it."

Members of the public who attended the meeting all supported the ordinance, many requesting the board to reconsider bringing back the Second Amendment sanctuary resolution as an action item. Though they recognized that Idaho, and Kootenai County, are predominantly pro-firearm communities, they believed becoming a sanctuary for those ideas would preserve that mindset long after current elected officials are gone. 

"What if God forbid something happens to Sheriff Norris or the next sheriff does not share the same, or the sheriff's department is under extreme pressures from various levels of government," a Coeur d'Alene woman said. "Our national government is wildly out of control and getting more tyrannical by the day. This is entirely appropriate and necessary."

A few days ago, U.S. House lawmakers passed two bills related to national gun laws, which has inspired many municipalities to consider similar sanctuary ordinances.

One bill passed the House in a 227-203 vote, which would expand background checks to anyone purchasing a weapon over the internet, at gun shows or private sales. The other, which would increase the number of business days to 10 for federal background checks to be completed before a gun sale is completed, narrowly scraped through in a 219-210 vote. 

"How can you not move to ensure our constitutional rights are not trampled on by the federal government?" Nancy King asked the board. "Shame on both of you (Brooks and Fillios) for not having the courage even to take this opportunity to discuss strengthening this very essential constitutional right. I pray you reconsider."

The Coeur d'Alene/Post Falls Press is a KREM 2 news partner. For more from our news partner, click here.