Expressing concern over potential “red flag” laws, nearly 150 supporters of the 2nd Amendment crammed into the Yavapai County Supervisor’s Board room in Cottonwood on December 20, 2019. Those that could not find a seat stood in the hallway for over an hour, watching the proceedings through the doorway or on overhead monitors.
Their desired purpose? To have the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors declare Yavapai County a, "Second Amendment Sanctuary County” in a pre-emptive strike against any red-flag laws that may be enacted in the future by state or federal legislators. If such a declaration is made, Yavapai County would be the second county in Arizona to make such a stand. Of the many speakers before the supervisors on December 20, only one spoke out against the Second Amendment Sanctuary County request. You can watch the video of that December 20th Board of Supervisors meeting here.
Red flag laws are gun control measures that allow police or family members to petition a state court to order the temporary removal of firearms from a person believed to present a possible danger to themselves or others. The final decision of whether or not to seize the weapons is made by a judge. The guns may be returned at a later date, but it often requires another legal hearing. As of late summer 2019, 17 states and the District of Columbia had enacted some sort of red flag law, also known as risk-based gun removal or Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) laws.
Governor Doug Ducey wants the legislators to enact what he calls a, “Severe Threat Order of Protection” (STOP). In his Safe Arizona Schools Action Plan, he writes, "A key component of our plan is the implementation of a Severe Threat Order of Protection (STOP) order. A STOP order will allow law enforcement or other specific individuals to seek an order prohibiting ability to purchase or access a gun if the person poses a significant threat to themselves or others… Our plan protects a person's rights under the second amendment by ensuring due process prior to an order going into effect. The plan also includes measures to ensure a person under a STOP order does not have access to a firearm."
How often are the red-flag laws utilized? In Florida, red-flag laws went into effect March, 2018. In the year and a half between March, 2018 and July, 2019 red-flag orders were granted 2,227 times according to a South Florida Sun Sentinel article, which explains, "A background check can identify someone who shouldn’t have a weapon based on his or her past, but red flags, formally known as 'extreme risk protection orders,' are designed to identify people who could pass a background check but are at risk of using the gun for harm in the near future.”
Advocates say red-flag laws save lives. Opponents look at these measures as just an excuse to take their guns.
On November 4th, 2019, the Mohave County Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution, “…declaring Mohave County a ’Second Amendment Sanctuary County’.” But the proclamation that the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors is considering does not declare Yavapai County a Second Amendment Sanctuary County, it simply offers support for the 2nd Amendment. It does not use the word, “sanctuary” at all.
Here you can compare the two documents (Yavapai County is in black, Mohave County is in red. The main differences are highlighted):
Myrna Lieberman, who participated in a presentation to the Supervisors on December 20, is disappointed. She does not find the proposed Proclamation satisfactory. "Why would we need a proclamation of our 2nd Amendment rights?” Lieberman asks.
Larry Jacobs, another citizen concerned about red-flag laws agreed, " The Yavapai Board of Supervisors Proclamation does not include the wording in the last paragraph on page 2 such as the Mohave County Resolution that does not authorize or appropriate government funds, resources, employees, agencies, contractors, buildings, detention centers or offices for the purposes of enforcing laws that unconstitutionally infringe on the people’s right to keep and bear arms.” Jacobs pointed out that this provision is important to keep the Yavapai County resources from being used to infringe on the people’s Second Amendment rights.
" If the State of Arizona passes legislation that was considered to be in violation of the 2nd Amendment , then what would be the response from the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors?” Lieberman said. "The proclamation has no teeth.”
The Yavapai County Board of Supervisors meet on Thursday, January 2, 2020 at 9 AM at the Yavapai County Administration Building.
If You Go:
What: Yavapai County Board of Supervisors Meeting
Who: Yavapai County Board of Supervisors
When: Thursday, January 2, 2020
Time: 9 AM
Where: Yavapai County Administration Building, 1015 Fair Street, Prescott
What you need to know:
There is limited seating in the Board of Supervisors’ Hearing Room, which is on the first floor. If you do not have room to sit down, you may be asked to stand outside the room (as happened in Cottonwood.)
Maria Lynam (who also spoke before the Supervisors on December 20) has posted several statements on the Prescott Indivisible Facebook page , but unfortunately has provided some misinformation. First, she says, “Get there early, because if you are not seated, you will be asked to leave.” That is not exactly correct. You may be asked to leave the room for safety purposes, but you can still listen in the lobby.
Further down the page, she states, “Only those seated can make a statement.” That’s not true. If you turn a Request To Speak form to the City Clerk, you can speak, whether or not you are in the room. They will call your name and you can come forward to make your statement. You will be limited to three minutes, as is everyone. People in Cottonwood will be viewable via video cams and they will also be given an opportunity to make a statement.
What happens if a room is too small to accommodate the number of people that want to attend a public meeting?
It depends. The public body must provide the public with access to all public meetings. The requirement is not met if the meeting is held in a room too small to accommodate the reasonably anticipated number of observers. If the room is too small, the public body should recess and resume the meeting in a larger location. Of course, in doing so, it must notice the time and place of resumption. This action does not require 24 hour notice. An agency may also provide overflow rooms, provided there is a live audio feed of the meeting and the people in the overflow rooms are offered the same opportunities to participate in the meeting as the people in the meeting room.
Since publishing this article, the following discussion was had on Facebook: