PRESS EDITORIAL: A gun rights show marred by contempt for law

The gun rights show staged at the Fredonia Village Hall on March 18 was pure theater, enlivened by dramatic declamations and standing ovations.

The performance, put on by a group called the Wisconsin Grandsons of Liberty with Fredonia Village Board members in supporting roles, featured a call by the Grandsons to declare Fredonia a “Second Amendment sanctuary,” which was followed by swift acquiescence by the board.

The Grandsons’ spokesman was applauded in the first standing ovation from the audience of about 60 people after he declaimed that gun policy proposals such as requiring background checks for private gun sales and restricting assault weapons would “eviscerate” the Second Amendment. The second ovation followed the board’s unanimous approval of a resolution opposing gun restrictions and urging the village marshal and Ozaukee County sheriff to not enforce such laws.

These proceedings were colorful and, needless to say, popular with the audience, but they will have no practical effect on gun policy. Neither the Village of Fredonia nor Ozaukee County are planning to enact ordinances that eviscerate the Constitution. In the unlikely event that new gun restrictions are ever made law, it will be by the U.S. Congress, and its members will not be consulting Fredonia village officials for guidance.

Still, persuading local governing bodies to weigh in on issues beyond their authority is an increasingly popular means of advocacy. It has been employed in Wisconsin in efforts to have county boards, including Ozaukee’s, authorize referendums on a fair redistricting. The Ozaukee County Board demurred on the grounds that redistricting was beyond its authority. That precedent should prevent the board from considering a resolution similar to the one approved in Fredonia when it is introduced, as was promised by Village Trustee Josh Haas, who is also a county supervisor.

Advocating for gun rights is, of course, a perfectly acceptable expression of American freedoms, and the exercise that played out in Fredonia was harmless enough—until it got to the part of the “sanctuary” resolution that called on authorities to refuse to enforce gun laws.

Since when is nonenforcement of laws an option? In this country, it certainly is not. Laws are enforced and laws are obeyed. That is the way it works in a nation that is committed to the rule of law by its founding document, the Constitution.

Gun rights advocates are big fans of the Constitution because it is the home of the amendment on which the right to unfettered gun ownership is based. At the Fredonia meeting, Haas said the County Board should pass a resolution opposing gun restrictions because, “We took an oath to follow the Constitution.”

Well, following the Constitution requires enforcing laws. Article VI says it clearly: “Laws  are enforced equally and impartially.” James McClellan, the famed constitutional scholar and author of the definitive “Liberty, Law and Justice,” wrote, “The U.S. Constitution is the nation’s fundamental law.” He emphasized that “no person can be allowed to act as if he were superior to the law of the land.”

It would be surprising at any time for elected representatives to support defying laws, but it is especially so at a time when the memory of defiance of law on a catastrophic scale is so fresh.

The invasion, sacking and desecration of the U.S. Capitol in January was the ultimate expression of the contempt for law that leads to anarchy. Members of the perpetrating mob had the gall to proclaim themselves patriots, wave American flags and invoke the Constitution as they broke laws and assaulted law enforcement officers.

Because the Constitution makes this a country subject to the rule of law, those anarchists are being systematically brought to justice. Many of those who justified lawbreaking as an exercise in liberty stand to lose their personal liberty for a long time in prison.

It should be noted by any law enforcement officers who might be tempted to follow the Fredonia resolution’s encouragement to refuse to enforce gun laws that the few officers in the ranks of the otherwise brave police defending the Capitol who stood back and encouraged the rioters have been suspended and may face prosecution.

Because of a procedural error, the gun resolution will be brought up for a second vote. The players in Fredonia gun performance might want to polish  their lines for the next act by reading the Constitution beyond the Second Amendment.


Click Here to Send a Letter to the Editor

Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


User login