Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Haines borough becomes Second Amendment Sanctuary


May 13, 2021

Haines Borough has joined an ever-growing list of municipalities nationwide vowing to uphold the Second Amendment in the event the federal government enacts what the assembly views as unconstitutional gun regulations.

Although the words “Second Amendment Sanctuary” were removed from the resolution prior to passage on Tuesday, in keeping with resolutions from other gun sanctuaries, it expresses the borough’s intent to oppose state or federal laws that would infringe on the right to bear arms.

Assembly member Paul Rogers, who brought the resolution forward at the request of resident Mike Armour, said he removed explicit reference to a “Second Amendment Sanctuary” in an effort to compromise with those who have spoken out against the resolution.

After delaying a vote last month on the resolution, the Haines Borough Assembly voted 4-2 to support the resolution with the modified language. Assembly members Carol Tuynman and Caitie Kirby were opposed. Rogers and assembly members Gabe Thomas, Jerry Lapp and Cheryl Stickler voted in favor.

The measure has drawn a lot of public input since it first appeared in an assembly meeting packet in April. Sixteen people spoke at the Tuesday meeting and another 27 submitted letters. Of these, 18 favored the resolution and 25 opposed it. A petition with more than 200 signatures supporting the resolution was submitted. There was some overlap between speakers, letter submitters and petition signers.

Those in favor said they worry the time will come when the government tries to take away people’s right to own guns and that guns are a fundamental part of guaranteeing citizens’ freedom.

“In these extraordinary times we can no longer depend on the federal government to protect our rights as U.S. citizens. We can no longer depend on the president to defend our rights as guaranteed under the (U.S.) Constitution,” wrote Armour.

Armour, and Mayor Douglas Olerud, cited April 8 remarks by president Joe Biden, in reference to the Second Amendment, that “no amendment to the constitution is absolute’’ as evidence that the Biden administration will infringe on the public’s constitutional rights.

The quote is an excerpt from a speech in which Biden saysw there are limits to some constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms. “You can’t (yell) ‘fire’ in a crowded movie theater and call it freedom of speech,” he said. “From the very beginning, you couldn’t own any weapon you wanted to own.”

Some supporters referenced past instances of government brutality as evidence for the resolution’s necessity.

“The Jews were not allowed to have their own guns. The guns were taken away from the Jewish people, and we all know what happened to them,” resident Kimberly Rosado said during public comment.

Those opposed said they worry the resolution will send the wrong message.

“There’s nothing really wrong with the way things are now, but if we pass this resolution, I’m afraid a lot of other people will just think we’re a bunch of AK-47-toting nuts, and I think it’ll hurt our economy,” Beach Road resident Michael Balise said.

Others said the measure isn’t enforceable.

“Because I like guns and because I enjoy my freedom, I don’t want this to happen because at the borough level it serves no purpose,” Art Woodard said.

Kirby expressed concern that the assembly would be forced to determine the constitutionality of federal gun laws, saying she didn’t think it was appropriate given the separation of powers between the legislative and judicial branches.

In a Wednesday interview, Stickler told the CVN that if the U.S. Congress passed a federal gun law or if Biden issued an executive order, she would prefer to take direction from the state or Governor Michael Dunleavy on how to proceed. She said she’s concerned about laws that would restrict magazine capacity and which firearms she’d be allowed to own.

“If they restrict the size of the magazine to five rounds, then people like myself who carry a firearm for self defense won’t have enough rounds to defend myself,” Stickler said, citing bears as a threat that Alaskans face.

Although some residents asked the assembly to put the question on the October ballot for the public to decide, assembly members declined.

“If we put this to a vote, I feel like we’re going to have a full year… of fighting,” assembly member Gabe Thomas said. “We’re just going to keep dragging it out and continue to divide, divide, divide.”

Tuynman and Kirby said they didn’t like the idea that the assembly was placing one amendment above the others.

“We’re specifically saying, ‘This one.’ To me that says that we think less of the (other amendments), and to me that’s not right,” Kirby said. She suggested the assembly could change the resolution to support all constitutional amendments, but didn’t offer an amendment to the resolution.

Olerud, who spoke in favor of the resolution, said he thinks that other amendments are being infringed upon. He said he’d be willing to put on the agenda a resolution vowing to uphold the Fourth Amendment, which relates to unwarranted searches and seizures, if someone brought it forward.

With the resolution’s adoption, Haines became the second municipality in Alaska to pass Second Amendment Sanctuary language. Last year, the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly passed an ordinance with language resembling that in Rogers’ resolution. Gun advocacy websites classify the entire State of Alaska as a Second Amendment Sanctuary due to a law that prohibits the use of local funds to aid in the implementation of federal laws that infringe upon an individual’s right to bear arms.


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