Breckenridge Texan

Stephens County joins eight others as ‘Second Amendment Sanctuary’ in Texas

Stephens County joins eight others as ‘Second Amendment Sanctuary’ in Texas
November 12
14:14 2019

The Commissioners Court voted Tuesday morning, Nov. 12, to make Stephens County the ninth “Second Amendment Sanctuary County” in Texas.

County Judge Michael Roach said that several citizens had reached out to the court in support of a resolution, which was brought to the court by Tim Pesch. “Counties across the state of Texas are doing this; I think there’s eight so far. You know what is the sad thing, is that we have to affirm we’re going to live by the Constitution,” Roach said. “This is codified not only by the United States Constitution, but it’s also in the Texas Constitution.

“This resolution…is ceremonial in nature; we can’t pass laws here in Commissioners Court,” the judge continued. “But, what this resolution does say is that we’re not going to spend your tax dollars fighting against those who keep and bear arms.”

The resolution declares that Stephens County is a Second Amendment Sanctuary County, specifying that the Court also affirms its support of decisions made by the sheriff “to not enforce any unconstitutional firearms restrictions against any citizen.”

Additionally, the resolution states that the Commissioners Court “will not authorize or appropriate government funds, resources, employees, agencies, contractors, buildings, detention centers, or officers for the purpose of enforcing law that unconstitutionally infringes on the right of the people to keep and bear arms.”

Before the resolution was approved, Stephens County Sheriff Will Holt addressed the court and the citizens in attendance, assuring them that he supports the designation. “I don’t actually get to sign resolutions … but I do want y’all — the court — to know and (to put it) on record with the media and with the folks here that I support this resolution 100 percent,” he said.

Other Texas counties that have passed similar resolutions include Parker, Hood, Ellis, Smith, Mitchell, Presidio, Hudspeth and Edwards, which was the first in July.

According to a recent Texas Monthly article (Texas Counties Are Declaring Themselves ‘Second Amendment Sanctuaries.’ But What Does That Mean, Exactly?), Jeff Davis County considered passing such a resolution in August but decided against voting on it after James Allison, general counsel for the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas, advised the commissioners that they didn’t have the authority to give the county that designation. Texas Monthly referenced an August article on The Big Bend Sentinel website, which quoted Allison as saying in a written statement that “Texas counties have no authority to create a ‘sanctuary’ for or against weapons.”

The Big Bend Sentinel article, Legal opinions raise doubt over “Second Amendment sanctuary” movement, also quoted Allison as saying that the resolution would be an opinion and “should be carefully drafted to avoid implying any legal effect.”

In September, the Big Bend area newspaper/website had another article about the Brewster County commissioners voting 3-2 against a similar resolution. According to that story, the three commissioners who voted against the resolution “said they objected to the wording of the resolution but might vote in favor of a reworded document.”

The Stephens County Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the local resolution. Click here to see the complete resolution.

Burn Ban

Also at the meeting, which was rescheduled because of Monday’s Veterans Day holiday, the commissioners voted to reinstate the burn ban, which had been lifted last week. Stephens County Fire Marshal Calvin Chaney recommended the action.

“I know we got rain, and I know we lifted the ban on the 7th. We gave them all weekend to burn; I think that’s good,” Chaney said. “All that rain did was help our ground moisture. It don’t help our fuel moisture, that’s the grass that’s dead. … My recommendation is that we put the burn ban back on until we get some substantial moisture and get green grass coming back up again.”

The commissioners agreed and voted unanimously to put a burn ban in place.

Other business

Stephens County Justice of the Peace Steve Spoon talks to the commissioners about joining the Jail Navigator Program to help with mental health assessments the county is required to conduct on local inmates. (Photo by Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan)

Justice of the Peace Steve Spoon spoke about the county’s responsibilities regarding new legislation on how inmates with mental health issues are handled in the jail. Spoon recommended that the county enter into the Jail Navigator Program that he described as being like a mental health insurance for the county, which is required to conduct mental health assessments on every inmate. The commissioners took Spoon’s recommendation and voted to join the program.

The commissioners also voted to get four roll-off dumpsters to be used in the continued cleanup of the property on North Jackson Street that had been used as an illegal dump site.

Additionally, the county commissioners approved the renting of scaffolds and purchasing paint for the Stephens County courtroom, and they approved the local results in the recent state constitutional amendment election.


Story by Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

Cutline, top photos: In Tuesday morning’s Stephens County Commissioners meeting, the commissioners voted to approve a resolution designating the county as a Second Amendment Sanctuary County. (Photo by Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan)

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