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 From Our Neighbors To The East 
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 Post subject: From Our Neighbors To The East
PostPosted: Thu Aug 19, 2010 8:03 am 
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For those that might be unfamiliar, Jackson County, Wisc, is located not far from Minnesota, roughly the same latitude as Winona, Wabasha, etc. Black River Falls and Onalaska are located in Jackson County.

Published - Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Gun-rights advocates take aim at county

by Matthew Perenchio | Executive Editor

About 30 gun-rights advocates gathered in front of the Jackson County Courthouse Monday evening in support of the district attorney’s decision to not prosecute some state weapon laws.

Wisconsin Carry Inc. organized the rally before the Jackson County Board meeting, also hoping to sway officials against utilizing county ordinances to prosecute gun violations.

Some attended the rally wearing empty holsters. No altercations took place.

“Our point is to make the point to the county board that we think they’re overstepping their bounds,” said Hubert Hoffman, vice president of Wisconsin Carry, a gun-rights advocacy group.

“The district attorney makes the determination what statutes are prosecutable and not prosecutable ... Now the county is going and saying what should be prosecuted, and they’ve got the county (legal) counsel going and looking into whether or not it would be legitimate to prosecute these things.”

The rally comes after Jackson County Corporation Counsel Mark Skolos stated he believes the county’s gun ordinances that prohibit carrying a concealed weapon and carrying a firearm in a public building are still enforceable. Corresponding state statutes were among those on a list Jackson County DA Gerald Fox said his office would not prosecute because they were unconstitutional following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in July.

“We think we have enforceable ordinances on the books, and if it comes up, we’ll enforce them,” Skolos said. “I’m not convinced that there’s anything wrong with our existing ordinance.”

Skolos said he disagrees with Fox’s stance but said his office is awaiting more input on the constitutionality of the county’s ordinances, including an anticipated opinion from Wisconsin’s Office of the Attorney General. Skolos said the county likely will take up discussion on the ordinances in the future, but no review has been scheduled.

The Supreme Court struck down the city’s 28-year-old ban on firearms in McDonald v. City of Chicago, ruling that such laws violate the Second Amendment’s right “to keep and bear arms.” Fox subsequently stated the decision means several state laws violate that right, and he will no longer prosecute carrying a concealed weapon, possessing of a firearm in a public building or bar or having an uncased or loaded firearm in a vehicle.

However, concealed weapon and firearms in public buildings violations could still be prosecuted through Jackson County ordinances. Skolos said those ordinances remain in effect, but he also said the county isn’t taking a more aggressive approach.

“If the implication is out there that our office intends to aggressively pursue the gun ordinances like we didn’t before, that’s not true,” he said. “We don’t intend to do anything different than what’s been done in the past.”

A July 2009 agreement between the DA’s office and corporation counsel gives the DA prosecutory preference over ordinance violations of carrying a concealed weapon. The agreement remains in effect, but Fox said he won’t pursue any violations.

Monday’s county board meeting did not include an agenda item regarding gun violation prosecution, so no formal presentation was given to the board. But Hoffman said he hoped the rally’s presence before, during and after the meeting would send a message to county board supervisors.

“Our hope is that when the county board as a whole sees the number of people who are there, they will become well aware the citizens of Jackson County do not want them to take any further action on this,” Hoffman said.

Michael Page, a Melrose resident, was among citizens at the rally. Although not a member of Wisconsin Carry, he said he supports gun rights but doesn’t carry a weapon because he’s afraid of prosecution.

He said he heard about the rally Sunday at the Melrose Corn Broil and wanted to show his support.

“Anything to help the Second Amendment,” Page said. “It’s very important — anything to help our Constitution.”

County board members said they noticed the group’s presence but said it was difficult to be influenced on a matter that has yet to be formally presented and discussed.

Supervisor Don Evenson said he felt the rally was unnecessary and had the potential to get out of control.

“What really scares me about this is that it doesn’t take much for something to get a lot of people riled up, and all of a sudden you’ve got chaos,” Evenson said. “It actually aggravates the living daylights out of me.

“This is what you call overreaction.”

Supervisor Ray Ransom said he appreciated the public interest but said no county committees or the board have been faced with making a decision on the topic.

“People do have an impact on elected officials, and I think it’s great they want to show up and at least be heard, but I’m just aware of nothing that’s been presented,” Ransom said.

Ransom, a lifelong hunter, said he believes some gun restrictions are needed, but he would seek legal opinion before supporting a specific decision.

“I feel there are places that guns don’t belong, but I’m not sure from a legal standpoint,” he said. :roll:

Jackson County Sheriff Duane Waldera said the rally was peaceful and participants did not violate any state or county gun laws.

“Our only concern is that they weren’t going to bring firearms into the building,” Waldera said. “We spoke to them, they were understanding and respectful, and they weren’t going to carry in the courthouse.

“They just wanted to (be heard) and we’re OK with that.”

Fox didn’t have any direct comment regarding the rally, stating he feels his office’s stance is clear. Fox’s statement following the Supreme Court case said the laws he won’t prosecute infringe upon the rights of law-abiding Americans to self-defense, including possession of a switchblade or butterfly knife. However, Fox said he still will enforce other unlawful uses of weapons, such as the prohibition of felons being armed with a firearm, possessing a firearm while intoxicated, using a firearm to commit a crime and endangering the safety by negligent handling of a weapon.

“I did promise to be efficient, accountable and responsive, and so I must respond if people want to know why I did what I did, but as I said, I think I said all that in my release,” Fox said.

Hoffman, an Onalaska resident, said gun rights is a statewide issue and applauds Fox’s decision. Hoffman said he carried a gun while at the recent Jackson County Fair and was able to enjoy the fair like others.

“Nobody said anything. Nobody ran away,” he said.

Black River Falls Police Chief Don Gilberg and Waldera said they will continue to enforce all laws despite Fox’s stance. Gilberg said his department will issue municipal citations for offenses Fox won’t prosecute, and Waldera said his department still will make referrals.

Chief Deputy Mark Moan said the sheriff’s department has not dealt with any incidents involving laws or ordinances that Fox said he won’t prosecute since Fox’s statement.

Wisconsin Carry formed last November and has about 500 members. The group filed a federal lawsuit in January challenging the state’s Gun-Free School Zone Act, which prohibits carrying a firearm on public property within 1,000 feet of school property. The group claims the law unnecessarily criminalizes citizens if they step outside their home with a gun in the restricted area.

 Post subject: Re: From Our Neighbors To The East
PostPosted: Thu Aug 19, 2010 9:51 am 
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Very well done by the Wisconsin good guys. Very.

Just a guy.

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