West Michigan town forms militia to protest red flag gun laws
- Holton Township in west Michigan joins dozens of other communities to pass Second Amendment sanctuary resolutions
- A resolution passed last week also establishes a township militia
- The resolutions are mostly symbolic: Township boards can’t direct police to ignore laws
Holton Township in Muskegon County last week voted to declare itself a “Second Amendment sanctuary,” and went one step further than the 50-plus Michigan communities and counties that have passed similar resolutions.
The township of about 2,500 residents also passed a resolution to create a militia and refuse to enforce any gun restriction law passed before 2021.
The resolution was passed days before Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday signed legislation that prevents those convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors from owning firearms for eight years.
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Holton Supervisor Alan Jager told Bridge Michigan the overwhelming majority of township residents support the move because they fear their rights are slipping away, especially after Michigan adopted a “red flag law” that allows judges to seize weapons of those deemed a danger to themselves or others.
“You just can't come in and take our weapons away without giving us a fighting chance to stand up for ourselves because we may not be guilty of anything,” Jager said.
“We would just like to see local people stand up and say, ‘You just can’t do this and pass these laws’ because it may be good for the city but not good for rural communities.”
The township tried and failed to pass a similar resolution last year. The new resolution — which was approved unanimously — also creates a militia open to anyone 18, and older who primarily lives in Holton Township.
“ Holton Township will not acknowledge any new laws that are associated with red flag laws, or any other infringement of the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution. Holton Township will not acknowledge any new regulation that prohibits open carry or concealed carry,” the resolution reads.
Michigan in May became the 21st state to adopt a red flag law, but the measure doesn’t take effect until Feb. 13. The law would allow relatives, current and ex-spouses, dating partners, police and mental health professionals to petition courts for an extreme risk protection order to take away guns from those with mental health issues.
A judge would have up to 24 hours to rule on the petition. If granted, police would notify the gun owner, who then has up to 24 hours to turn over their weapons before they are confiscated.
In Michigan, at least 53 of 82 mostly rural counties have passed resolutions declaring themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries. While some law enforcement have questioned how the red flag law would be enforced, the sanctuary resolutions are nonbinding, since county and township officials can’t direct sheriffs or police to flout the law.
“This is all political grandstanding for the far-right gun extremists,” said Ryan Bates, executive director of End Gun Violence Michigan, an organization dedicated to passing gun violence prevention laws.
“We've seen this in other states, where gun-sense majorities have passed laws like safe storage, like extreme risk protection orders, like protection for domestic violences survivors.”
“At the end of the day, most law enforcement officials understand that laws aren't suggestions or guidelines, they are laws,” Bates said.
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