It was standing-room-only out the door of the Jefferson County Commission office Thursday night as a request was put before the commission meeting for county action toward a Second Amendment sanctuary.
Social media postings earlier in the week indicated that supporters of the proposed ordinance intended to present the request to the commissioners and that people who were opposed intended to attend to express their opposition. Security for the meeting was higher than normal at the courthouse with a half-dozen Jefferson County Sherriff’s deputies at the front entrance and in the hallway throughout most of the meeting. In addition, those attending were routed through the courthouse screening devices as they entered.
Clay Folkner, who has headed a local drive to obtain signatures on petitions in support of the effort, gave to the commissioners during the public part of the meeting a document with the heading “ORDINANCE NO. 2020 — AN ORDINANCE ESTABLISHING JEFFERSON COUNTY, INDIANA AS A SECOND AMENDMENT SANCTUARY COUNTY (SASO).”
The language of the proposal read in part, “The right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental individual right that shall not be infringed; and all local, State, and Federal acts, laws, orders, rules or regulations regarding firearms, firearms accessories, and ammunition enacted or promulgated that violate that fundamental individual right are violative of the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States and/or Article I, Section 32 of the Indiana Constitution.”
The ending of the proposed ordinance read, “This ordinance is declared to be an emergency measure necessary for the immediate preservation of the peace, health, safety and general welfare of the people of this municipality, and shall take effect immediately upon passage.”
As Folkner presented the document to the commission, he noted that he had obtained more than 1,700 signatures in support of having the sanctuary ordinance. He also told the commissioners he was presenting a “recommended language to get signed,” and that he realized the commission might make changes but he was putting his trust in the commission to make the right decisions.
Commission President David Bramer told Folkner the commission would need time to look over the documents and then opened the meeting for public comment, which brought about 30 minutes of passionate comments and discussion, both in support and opposition to the proposal.
The conversation was frequently punctuated with disagreement on the facts of the situation and speakers made their points with conviction in their voices. Most speakers introduced themselves as residents of Madison or the county and many noted how long they have lived in the area.
The comments addressed many different points and feelings, always seeming to come back to whether the rights granted in the Second Amendment are being threatened.
“This is a grassroots effort,” said Jesse Stillwell, saying there “already have been bills introduced in Indiana that have an affect on the Second Amendment.”
Warren Auxier urged the commission to “be cautious ” to make sure anything put in place is legal and doesn’t confuse the public or “make our law enforcement job more difficult.” He also urged commissioners to make sure they have the authority to make the kind of decision “some people are looking for you to make.”
“We are defending our rights,” said Gilbert Black.
Sandy Palmer said she did not feel her “Second Amendment right is in danger.”
When no more speakers stepped forward, Bramer again said he and the other commissioners would discuss what had been asked of them and the public conversation they had just heard and respond as soon as possible.