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Board of supervisors

A near capacity crowd was in attendance at the September 13 Board of Supervisors meeting.

INDEPENDENCE – The Board of Supervisors chambers were standing room only on Monday as the body was there to discuss a resolution making Buchanan County a Second Amendment Sanctuary.

Chairman Clayton Ohrt stated he placed the item on the agenda after being contacted by several people and organizations in favor of the status. He began the discussion by reading a letter.

“I would like to start off this morning by reading a very touching letter the supervisors got,” Ohrt said, adding he would not mention the author’s name, but knew he was a veteran.

The letter stated the author served in the infantry in Iraq. The author recalled leaving weapons in Iraqi homes for the occupants to protect themselves. The author was concerned that people of the “friendly Midwest” take their freedoms for granted. The person was also concerned about the lack of sheriff’s deputies and their equipment.

“To think elected officials and law officers can be everywhere at one time and help is dangerous,” Ohrt read. “The current state of world events show no better proof. I will not depend on anyone else with lesser knowledge, equipment, or experience to protect my family’s life or my own.”

The letter summed up the author’s appreciation for all who have and will serve in the military and asked the supervisors to approve the resolution.

“I served with these men, make them proud of your vote,” said the letter. “It is our God-given freedom.”

Ohrt then opened the floor for comment and was asked to read the resolution presented.

“The resolution is a formal expression of opinion, decision, and firmness of purpose,” Ohrt stated before reading it.

Resolution 21-86

Resolution Declaring Buchanan County to be a Second Amendment Sanctuary County

WHEREAS, the right of the people to keep and bear arms is guaranteed as an individual right under the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” And

WHEREAS, the right of the people to keep and bear arms for defense of life, liberty, and property is regarded as an inalienable right by the people of Buchanan County, Iowa, herein referred to as the County; and

WHEREAS, the people of the County derive economic benefit from all safe forms of firearms recreation, hunting, and shooting conducted within the County using all types of firearms allowable under the United States Constitution and the laws of the State of Iowa; and

WHEREAS, the County Board of Supervisors was elected to represent the citizens of the County, and have sworn by their Oath of Office to uphold the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Iowa; and

WHEREAS, Iowa State Senators and State Representatives have also sworn by their Oath of Office to uphold the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Iowa; and

WHEREAS, legislation is currently being considered and expected to be proposed by both the Iowa State Legislature and Federal Legislature that potentially seeks to infringe on the constitutionally protected right of citizens to keep and bear arms; and

WHEREAS, it is desirable to declare that the County is a Second Amendment Sanctuary County, as the County opposes the enactment of any legislation, executive order and administrative rules that would infringe upon the constitutional right of the people of the County to keep and bear arms or restrict the possession and purchasing of ammunition.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Buchanan County Board of Supervisors hereby declares Buchanan County to be a Second Amendment Sanctuary County, and hereby states its opposition to the enactment of any legislation, executive order and administrative rules that would infringe upon the constitutional right of the people of Buchanan County to keep and bear arms.

After the reading of the resolution, Buchanan County Sheriff Scott Buzynski spoke to address the supervisors and the audience.

“The times right now are pretty unprecedented, and what we are going through right now with the COVID and federal government trying to get things back to the community,” Sheriff Buzynski began. “Local government is very important.”

Buyznski then spoke about the Oath of Office he took to protect and support the U.S. Constitution.

“….It’s worked very well for a long time, so I am very much in support of this [resolution].”

An audience member then shared they were in support of the resolution as her husband is out working in rural areas where he has encountered dogs and wildlife (i.e., fox and wolves) and has depended upon using a handgun to scare off threatening animals.

“Yes, we are talking about big-picture things, but we are talking about daily things too where people need to have a handgun or a big gun,” she said. “It’s all about protecting ourselves.”

Another supporter spoke up to say they were a retired Navy veteran and although did not own a weapon, they hoped others could as a deterrent in the case of school shootings or robberies.

“Hopefully fewer people will be killed,” she said.

Supervisors Gary Gissel and Don Shonka both stated their support for the resolution.

“I wholeheartedly support this,” said Gissel.

While Shonka said he is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and he served in the military, he had reservations about the resolution being raised before the Board of Supervisors.

“Does it belong in the boardroom,” he asked. “Are we opening up a can of worms? Are we going to be like they act in Washington? If the ‘Left’ comes in here and wants a resolution to counteract this, will it be put on the agenda? That’s my only question.”

Another audience member stated, “I think it’s important to stand behind our sheriff and make a statement so something like this wouldn’t happen.”

Shonka stated he fully supports the sheriff, and reiterated his concern the resolution under consideration was of a political nature and would another group be granted the same access for an opposite resolution.

“As long as they meet the criteria, I could not deny anybody, a citizen, from being heard at our meeting,” Chairman Ohrt said.

“This isn’t political, in our opinion,” said another audience member. “This is about our rights and the Constitution and our protection. And that we back up the sheriff and that he ensures our Constitutional rights. This is not political. This is ‘We the People.’ This is who we are. It’s everybody in the United States.”

“Our Founding Fathers created a system of government that is very upside down from any other government that came before it,” said the next speaker. “Our Founding Fathers created a system of government where we start out by making the big choices by ourselves and in our families and in our churches, in our communities, and our counties, and our states, and on up the line. The big decisions are supposed to be made here, in our little community. Yes, it belongs in this boardroom.…We should stand up and say ‘yes,’ we support the Second Amendment, because we believe in our Constitution. The Second Amendment supports all of the other amendments. Because without them, a tyrannical government could easily sweep the rest of these rights aside. Yes, it belongs here.”

Chairman Ohrt called for the vote, with supervisors voting to support the resolution.

“This is where things happen,” said Ohrt. “This is grassroots government right here – in your cities and in your counties. And we’ve got to let the people above us know how we feel.”

After the meeting Chairman Ohrt clarified that while the language of the resolution specifically uses “oppose,” the actions used to oppose higher government rulings was not stated.

Other Business

- A Public Safety Status Agreement was passed dealing with a law enforcement union contract.

- Ryan Gudenkauf was hired as a Buchanan County Sheriff’s deputy.

- A minor plat request by Roger and Helen Noe was approved.

- A tax sale was approved.

- Discussed office furniture with Recorder Michelle Mangrich.

- Discussed streamlining cell phone billing.

- Approved moving forward with an AID grant for County Engineer Brian Keierleber.

The next meeting of the Buchanan County Supervisors will be at 9 a.m. on Monday, September 20.

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