Commissioner Ben Grimsley asks Becker County to look into becoming a Second Amendment sanctuary county

“There’s way too much rhetoric coming out of Washington or St. Paul every time you turn on the TV or Internet, and a lot of people are scared that the average American citizen is going to be made a felon just because they own a weapon,” one man told commissioners.

Ben Grimsley 2017
Ben Grimsley

After a passionate plea from a Becker County resident, the Becker County Board may consider a request to declare Becker County a Second Amendment sanctuary county.

Joseph Allen spoke to commissioners Tuesday during the public comment portion of the Tuesday, Feb. 2, county board meeting.

“There’s way too much rhetoric coming out of Washington or St. Paul every time you turn on the TV or Internet, and a lot of people are scared that the average American citizen is going to be made a felon just because they own a weapon,” he told commissioners.

Allen said freedom of religion has been crushed by COVID-19 public health measures, freedom of the press is gone “unless you’re printing what they want you to say,” and the Second Amendment (the right to bear arms) is the glue that holds the Constitution together … take it away and the other amendments will follow.”

Allen said he is a combat veteran who served 10 years in the military. “I served in the desert to protect our freedoms. I pray I never have to see the hollowed eyes of powerless people walking in Detroit Lakes.”


When he got home from combat, he said, "the last thing I wanted to do is carry a weapon to protect anything. Unfortunately, it is our duty as American citizens to carry those weapons and protect it."

He added that a Feb. 20, 2018, “executive order signed by Donald Trump made bump stocks illegal.” Bump stocks are devices that essentially turn a semi-automatic gun into an automatic weapon, or machine gun. Owners of those bump stocks are supposed to destroy them or give them to law enforcement, according to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms website.

Trump took the action after bump stocks were used by the lone shooter in the Oct. 1, 2017, Las Vegas shooting that killed 61 and injured 867 people at an outdoor concert.

Allen said only about 150 bump stocks were turned in, and he doubts many were destroyed by their owners. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms estimates about 500,000 bump stocks were sold prior to the ban, so Allen said that basically all Trump’s executive order did was “make over 500,000 people into felons.” If AR-15s (semi-automatic rifles) and high-capacity magazines are outlawed, he added, “how many new criminals are we going to have?”

“To bring calm, to bring peace and ease to people,” Allen said, “it’s very important that we stand up and and stay united, as a county, as a city, as a group of people, no matter what political party is in control in Washington or St. Paul, that we the people are going to stand and protect our rights.” He urged commissioners to make Becker County “a Second Amendment County.”

After he spoke, Commissioner Ben Grimsley said that, while he used to be lukewarm to the idea, his attitude has changed “with the emergency orders (from Gov. Tim Walz to prevent the spread of COVID-19) and seeing the legislative process bypassed for so long.” Now he is interested in seeing the county pursue the idea.

Grimsley said he would like County Administrator Mike Brethorst to work on a Second Amendment Sanctuary resolution.

According to the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus website, a Second Amendment sanctuary “refers to counties, townships, cities, or other localities in Minnesota that have adopted resolutions or ordinances to prohibit or impede the enforcement of … gun control legislation such as universal background checks, red flag laws, "assault weapon" bans, magazine restrictions, or other metro DFL-driven anti-gun policies at the state legislature.” The group considers such laws unconstitutional.


These resolutions “send a strong message to the state legislature that the people, represented through their country governments, are opposed to ineffective and unconstitutional gun control measures,” according to the Gun Owners Caucus.

Counties in Minnesota that have approved a Second Amendment sanctuary resolution include Clearwater, Roseau, Wadena, Todd and several others.

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