Many Michigan Counties May Not Enforce New Gun Laws

New Michigan legislation under Democratic control is passing gun safety laws, including “red flag” laws that allow law enforcement to remove firearms from those deemed to be a danger.

However, at least 53 mostly rural counties in the state of 83 counties adopted resolutions to declare themselves a “Second Amendment Sanctuary” making the likelihood of support or enforcement of new laws questionable.

The resolutions are not legally binding since county commissioners can’t direct sheriffs or judges on what laws to enforce. But they signal a reluctance, if not refusal, to enforce state or federal gun regulations that local authorities consider a violation of the Second Amendment.

This is similar to the constitutional sheriff movement that insists that local authorities, not the state, are the primary arbiters of most law enforcement decisions.

  • Of the 53 counties with Second Amendment resolutions, 31 are Second Amendment “sanctuaries” and the other 22 declared support for Second Amendment rights. Language in 26 of thosecounties allows local sheriffs or prosecutors to refuse enforcement of laws they believe violate the Constitution.
  • The 53 counties have a combined population of 3.5 million people, about 30 percent of Michigan’s residents, according to a Bridge analysis of U.S. Census data.

Eric Ostergren, a county commissioner in Roscommon County, said that resolutions are necessary because a “bunch of stupid Democrats” in Lansing are proposing gun restrictions.

The Roscommon County Board of Commissioners, all Republican, voted 3-2 last week to adopt a resolution that rejects laws “ruled unconstitutional” by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Resist, resist, resist,” Ostergren said at a March 8 board meeting.

The resolutions are “not pronouncements that carry any legal weight,” said Sam Levy, regional legal director for the national anti-gun violence group Everytown Research and Policy. 

“If there’s a question about the constitutionality or enforceability of a law, those matters get resolved in courts,” Levy said. 


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