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GRANGEVILLE — Fifty petitioners packed in shoulder-to-shoulder last Tuesday, March 30, armed with 2,000 signatures, demanding the Idaho County Commissioners immediately declare Idaho County a “Second Amendment sanctuary.”

Five scheduled speakers read statements aimed at commission reluctance to officially endorse the proclamation. Some speakers targeted Commission Chair Skip Brandt’s Feb. 24 opinion piece in the Idaho County Free Press, criticizing the proclamation as possibly useless, redundant, or legally dangerous.

Brandt, self-quarantined, joined the meeting by conference phone. Speakers praised cooperating counties, blasted Biden anti-gun ploys and Governor Brad Little’s state shutdown, then lobbed rhetorical fire at skeptics of sanctuary status. Commissioner Denis Duman opened proceedings with the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer for wisdom, then welcomed the first of five speakers.

Retired veterinarian Phil Volkman, read the petition: “‘We the people of Idaho County hereby petition the … Commissioners to declare Idaho County a Second Amendment sanctuary, with protections from outside governments that would infringe on these rights as described in the Constitution’ … We currently have over 2,000 signatures [and] 15 cities and counties in Idaho who have passed sanctuary resolutions. Idaho County is on a list of three that have rejected this status … Governor Little showed us last year he can shut down our freedoms with an emergency declaration on a questionable pandemic to qualify for federal funds … Would he cave on gun rights for federal money threats?…”

Speaker Jo Hardy read a letter from military veteran John Whyte: “… I served my country for 30 years, supporting and defending the Constitution and the Bill of Rights … currently under attack … challenged at every level of government, especially with the current 9th Circuit Court … I believe our forefathers were men of vision who knew we needed a second amendment to preserve and protect our Constitution and the Bill of Rights …”

Speaker Mary Mangold rejected Brandt’s published opinion, saying: “A … member of our group … discovered a law, enacted in 2003 [by commissioners]: Ordinance Number 45 … passed in defiance of The Patriot Act [that] threatened to infringe constitutional rights … [45] reads: ‘… The Bill of Rights and the Constitution for these United States of America, which is the supreme law of the land, shall be upheld and enforced within the boundaries of Idaho County; repugnant acts, ordinances, or regulations of government in clear contravention notwithstanding’ … Using its contents might have been a great strategy to calm fears ….”

Speaker Craig Seegel read Jesie Schubert’s message: “… I came from a small town in Oregon, a conservative community … [It] was taken over by people who had moved into the area and had more liberal ideas … Now you can’t recognize our little town. It’s been transformed into a politically correct version of the cancel culture….”

Speaker Jon Aronson said, “One night my 17-year-old [daughter] asked me why we need such an effort here in Idaho County if the Bill of Rights is supposed to protect Constitutional rights … I reverted the question back to her: ‘Why do you think it’s important?’ After a pause, [she said], ‘Because I’m losing the fight and our rights’ …”

Sheriff Ulmer distributed copies of Ordinance 45, which he described as “a hidden gem …reaffirming … we will support the whole Constitution ….”

Duman promised: “We will take what has been said under consideration … we have a [pending] resolution …. affirming our support for Ordinance Number 45 .…”

“How does that answer 2,000 signatures?” someone asked.

Volkman retorted that if 2,000 signatures isn’t enough, “We can get more.”

One challenger quoted Second Amendment language “… ‘a well-regulated militia’: “… Are we ‘well-regulated’?”

Volkman was again recognized: “… 2,000 people — so far — want this …. What they’ve signed is the sanctuary status. It’s not a new law; it’s not a new ordinance; it’s a declaration .…”

Final remarks left promised voter reprisal at the polls for commission inaction. Duman announced: “Alright, folks, I know there’s a lot of comments, but we have to move on with the rest of our agenda ….” That included a support letter for Hells Canyon Recreation and a postponed executive session with State Insurance Representative Alicia Ray.

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