County joins others as ‘gun sanctuary’

Posted 12/24/19

Madison County joined a growing list of Texas counties Monday as a “second amendment sanctuary,” a measure designed to ward off any gun control efforts.

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County joins others as ‘gun sanctuary’

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Madison County joined a growing list of Texas counties Monday as a “second amendment sanctuary,” a measure designed to ward off any gun control efforts.

The measure, put forward to commissioners by Bobby Adams, a candidate for Madison County Sheriff, passed unanimously at the regular meeting of the Madison County Commissioners Court with only brief discussion.

“Basically what it says is we’re going to follow the second amendment,” Adams told commissioners. “We’re not going to use county resources for a ‘gun grab’.”

Edwards County in southwest Texas was the first to declare itself a second amendment sanctuary county in June 2018, but the trend has really picked up since Hudspeth County in far west Texas passed its measure in March. Since then, more than 35 of the 254 counties in the state have passed such policies, as well as the towns of Big Spring and Chester.

Grimes County voted in a similar measure on Dec. 11. Nearby Montgomery and Waller counties passed second amendment sanctuary resolutions in late November. According to reports, Navarro, Brown, Coleman, and McCulloch counties passed gun sanctuary measures earlier this month.

The number of counties passing such resolutions has risen dramatically since then-presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke during an October debate, “hell yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.”

Such measures usually codify that a county and its resources will not be used to enforce “unconstitutional firearms restrictions” against citizens. Most also block the use of county funds, employees and buildings from being used in service of any law that restricts the right to keep and bear arms.

Such efforts have not passed every time they’ve ended up on an agenda, however. In Jeff Davis County, commissioners killed voting on a similar proposal in August, after receiving legal guidance, according to a story in the Big Bend Sentinel.

James Allison, general counsel for the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas, told the Commissioners Court in a written opinion that “Texas counties have no authority to create a ‘sanctuary’ for or against weapons,” according to the newspaper.

In other moves Monday, Commissioners agreed to draft an interlocal agreement to allow Clark Osborne, president of the Madisonville Cemetery Association’s board of directors, to download county deed records at no cost in order to facilitate searches of plot ownership.

Currently, the system charges $1 per page to view deed records remote from the county clerk’s office. Deed records at the clerk’s office are free to view on site, though it costs $1 per page to get copies.

Osborne asked commissioners to consider setting up a log-in so that he can search records even when the clerk’s office is closed.

“When we get a death over the weekend, like (Thanksgiving weekend), and the clerk’s office is closed until Tuesday, but the service is Tuesday,” Osborne told commissioners, “I’ve got to look it up on Friday night so I can make sure they own the plot and I can allow the burial.”

Such searches cost Osborne personal funds in service of the non-profit organization.

Concerns that such access would open the door for title companies and others to request similar no-cost access caused commissioners to debate the issue for a while before agreeing to take an intermediate step of drafting an agreement and having county lawyers review. Commissioners also want to limit the access strictly to Osborne, rather than the association itself.

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