Draft 2nd Amendment Resolution Seeks To Give Supervisors Authority To Decide Which Gun Laws Are Constitutional

Draft 2nd Amendment Resolution Seeks To Give Supervisors Authority To Decide Which Gun Laws Are Constitutional

A draft resolution before the Shasta County Board today says that Supervisors believe California has passed gun laws that will later be determined to be unconstitutional by the courts and that infringe on rights under the Second Amendment. 

That’s why, the draft resolution states, they “may use all lawful means to prohibit any Shasta County Department, Officer, or Employee acting in their official capacity, from applying for grants, spending county public funds, using County public resources or County public employees, that directly or indirectly support any past, present, or future, state or federal infringement on the Second Amendment.”

The Board will also “use all lawful means at its disposal,” the draft resolution says, “to support and defend the Second Amendment,” including considering drafting or amending county policies, procedures, or ordinances in defense of it.

The draft resolution leaves the decision on what passes constitutional standards when it comes to the Second Amendment, in the hands of the Board itself. That is problematic, according to clear feedback from the Board’s legal counsel over the last draft of the resolution which came before the Board in February.

In a redlined version of the last version of the resolution, the County’s legal counsel at the time, Rubin Cruse Jr., noted a 2004 California Supreme Court ruling that confirmed that public officials may not decide for themselves whether or not laws are constitutional. 

Instead, the Court said, public officials must “faithfully uphold the Constitution by complying with legal mandates and leaving it up to the courts to decide whether they’re valid . . . A public official does not honor his or her oath to defend the Constitution by taking action in contravention of the restrictions of his or her office and justifying such action by reference to his or her personal constitutional views.”

That 2004 ruling confirmed what’s already clear in the California Constitution, that power is separated among three branches of government: the legislative branch which makes the laws, the executive branch which enforces them, and the judicial branch which interprets them. 

When it comes to local decision-making the Board does have some power in multiple branches of government according to the California State Association of Counties, which says that county boards have some executive and legislative roles in running local government as well as limited quasi-judicial power. 

None of those roles would allow county boards to determine what laws meet constitutional standards. 

The draft of the resolution in support of the 2nd Amendment, which will be considered by Supervisors today, July 25, was contributed to by the California Pistol and Rifle Association or CPRA. 

Only minimal revisions have been made to this second draft resolution despite the fact that it repeats some of the concerns with the last heavily red-lined version. 

Since February, both Rubin Cruse Jr. and his successor James Ross, have left their roles as County Counsel. The position is currently vacant. The staff report for the draft resolution says it was approved by the newly-appointed County CEO, David Rickert.