The Humboldt County Commission agreed to table adopting a resolution to address legislation passed during the Nevada state legislative session regarding “red flag” gun measure. Under the order, firearms would be temporarily seized from the person in question thought to be a threat by family or law enforcement. Governor Steve Sisolak signed AB 291 into law on June 14, 2019.
The commissioners faced a standing-room-only crowd of about 150 people who petitioned the members to adopt a resolution to declare Humboldt County a Second Amendment county in response to AB291.
The gun rights advocate group, headed by Sage Hill Arms co-owner Dawn Principe submitted their own resolution in response to a previous commission meeting held on July 8 in which the commission and the group agreed to work together with the county’s district attorney’s office and the sheriff’s office on a resolution. However, at the Sept. 3 commission meeting, each side presented their own version of the resolution. “As a group, we were extremely disappointed in that resolution that we received,” Principe said. “It was extremely vague and didn't really protect us in any way. So that's why we wrote up our resolution.”
Humboldt County resident Liz Barnard told the commissioners she appreciated the commissioners for bringing the resolution forward but asked them to consider the alternative resolution. “I think to clarify what people have said before me,” Barnard said, “is that this resolution is nowhere near strong enough to truly show that you're committed to helping us keep our rights. I know you get to take action [but] I would like to see you not adopt this current resolution. I would like to see you take the resolution drafted by the group at large and give it serious consideration to really show that you are serious.” Barnard said she thought resolution written by the county, the district attorney, and the sheriff’s department has “been perceived as weak and wishy-washy.”
About 20 people spoke during the three-hour public comment period. The majority of the comments stated the inability to defend themselves, unreasonable search and seizures, lack of due process, unjust laws, and laws that violate the US Constitution as reasons they stand together against AB291. One person who spoke out said the Constitution was written to “put the power in the hands of the people and limit the government. … (but) this bill was not put to voters. This (bill)was decided by a democratic majority of Nevada's representatives (and) completely disregards the rights” of the people.
All five commissioners and Sheriff Mike Allen agreed AB291 is unconstitutional. However, Sheriff Allen stated that not only did he take an oath to protect the US Constitution, but also to uphold the laws of the State of Nevada. “There is a process that has to be followed,” Sheriff Allen said. “And something to be unconstitutional has to be deemed by the courts after the law has been in place.”
As a competitive shooter, Commissioner Jim French sympathized with the crowd. “I shared your disbelief and your anger when that bill went through, not only went through but went through the way it did,” French said. “It was slipped through in the middle of the night type thing and it was designed to make it difficult for us to actually oppose it.”
But, ultimately, French said we need to come up with a solution that will be satisfactory to both the advocates and the county. “I can't support everything in the resolution because of the liability to the county but there is some language in there that I think I would not have a problem signing my name to,” French said. French said he wanted to take another opportunity to bring back a resolution that would combine the two resolutions. “I would like to make sure that when we pass a resolution it is as close to what they asked for as we possibly can get."
The commissioners approved a motion to have members from the Second Amendment group, the county, the district attorney and the sheriff’s office work on a draft of a resolution which will be brought back at a future commission meeting.