Eaton County passes measure instructing officials not to enforce gun restrictions

Board of Commissioners also approved first-ever LGBTQ+ Pride Month resolution


FRIDAY, May 19 —Eaton County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution calling on the county prosecutor and sheriff not to enforce “unconstitutional” gun laws.

“This board strongly encourages their utmost discretion in the exercise of their duties in enforcing any statute, law, rule, order, or regulation that is contrary to the rights established by The Constitution of the United States of America and the State of Michigan Constitution,” the resolution, offered by Republican Commissioner Brian Droscha of Charlotte, said.

The measure passed 8-7, with all the board’s Republicans favoring it and all its Democrats voting against it. Prosecutor Douglas R. Lloyd, a Republican, and Sheriff Tom Reich, a Democrat, were not immediately available for comment. 

Screenshots of the two-page resolution appear below.  This is page one of the resolution. 

The first page of the 'Constitutional County' resolution passed by the Eaton County Commission this week.
The first page of the 'Constitutional County' resolution passed by the Eaton County Commission this week.
Screenshot of page two of the resolution. 

The second page of the 'Constitutional County' resolution passed by the Eaton County Commission this week.
The second page of the 'Constitutional County' resolution passed by the Eaton County Commission this week.

Democratic Commissioner Jacob Toomey, a Michigan State University student from Dimondale, noted in the debate that the resolution is “unenforceable to begin with, and you're actively asking our employees and other elected officials to break the Michigan law, which is a terrible precedent, and we should have no business doing what you're explicitly calling for.”

Toomey also took a swing at conservative commissioners who rejected his resolution after the mass shooting at MSU on Feb. 13 that called for support for those impacted and for the Legislature to adopt more funding for mental health care and stricter gun laws. Droscha led the opposition to Toomey, which lost 8-7.

Droscha told City Pulse that he opposed the February resolution because it was “unconstitutional” and would result in “communism.”

“The goal of communism, if you don’t know your history, is to disarm people and take away their freedom of speech,” Droscha said.

At Wednesday’s board meeting, Toomey reminded opponents of the February resolution because they contended that “it is not the county's business to even touch those issues.”

“So, I think it would be purely hypocritical if any of you were to vote in favor of this.”

Republican Frank Holmes of Springport, said, “It's not the gun. It's the person and we should not be trying to take away rights under the U.S and Michigan constitutions by making laws that contradict the Constitution.”

Under Wednesday’s resolution, any agency in the county that works to enforce Michigan or federal gun restrictions could face financial penalties.

“The Board will not authorize or appropriate new funds, resources, employees, contractors, buildings, detention centers or offices for the sole purposes of enforcing any statute, law, rule, order, or regulation that restricts the rights of any law-abiding citizen affirmed by the Second Amendment or Article 1, Section 6, of the Michigan Constitution, nor be used to aid any state or federal agency in infringing or restricting such rights,” the resolution reads.

Democrat Commissioner Terrance Augustine of Grand Ledge, opposed the resolution.  “Telling our staff to not follow state law regardless of your opinions of said state law is just going to create confusion and is not a precedent that we want to set.”

The resolution declared the county a “constitutional county.” At least two other Michigan counties have officially declared themselves constitutional counties , Livingston and Tuscola. The idea of a constitutional county is a relatively new construct by Second Amendment advocates to undercut laws in place to address increased gun violence.

The resolution, which Droscha  said was written by "someone else," explains the idea of a constitutional county as “a place of refuge for the law-abiding citizen in regards to the citizens’ rights under The Constitution of the United States of America and Michigan Constitution including but not limited to the Second Amendment right to Keep and Bear Arms.”

Toomey said, “The Michigan Supreme Court exists for a reason. It is not the job or the obligation of this body in this room to delegate what is and what is not constitutional. That is the job of the Michigan Supreme Court, and we are overstepping our bounds as a body if we vote Yes on this.”

Replied Droscha, “It is not the Supreme Court's position to debate constitutionality, it is a Supreme Court's position to uphold our Constitution. The U.S Constitution is not controlled by the court. The court is controlled by the Constitution.”

He went on to attack so-called “red flag laws” recently enacted by the Legislature. The law allows individuals to petition a court to remove firearms from the possession of persons who are a threat to themselves or others. Droscha said that legislation made a person “guilty” and required them to prove they were “innocent,” a flip on the usual legal construct of innocent until proven guilty.

Perhaps ironically, the next order of business for the body was to approve a resolution recognizing Pride Month for the LGBTQ+ community. That resolution passed 8 to 7.  Blake Mulder of Grand Ledge was the only Republican to join the Democrats in passing it.

“As a Christian I'm a firm believer the Bible tells me that Jesus tells me to love my neighbors and I have no reason why I wouldn't love any people that this is discussing,” Mulder said. “So, I and have no reason to oppose this.”

The entire resolution honoring Pride Month passed by the Eaton County Commission this week.
The entire resolution honoring Pride Month passed by the Eaton County Commission this week.

This is the first time the Eaton County board has honored Pride Month.

Some commissioners said they were voting no because of their Christian faith and reliance on biblical principles.

“My biblical beliefs affirm that because of what the Bible says about the legislation that's been taking place here in our country,” said Republican Scott Hansen of Charlotte, referring to pro-LGBTQ+ measures. “We know that all men are sinners and have come short of God's glory and I feel that this only is a cultural thing that's been taking place.”

Toomey rebutted, “I've been going to church since I was a child and my God loves all people so I'll be in support of this resolution tonight,” he said.

Holmes accused the resolution of being part of a larger agenda by the LGBTQ community.

He also noted he would be unable to explain to his nearly 7,000 constituents why he supported such a resolution.

“I'm here to represent people. It's not just my beliefs I have to think about, and I haven't run into anybody in my district talking with them who would want me promoting this,” he said.

Said Droscha, “I have never had anybody call me and say, ‘Hey the LGBT community has got something coming up in June. We want you to support it.’

“Second Amendment stuff —  trust me, I've gotten calls.”

The following video is the debate on both the 'Constitutional County' and Pride Month resolutions reviewed and approved by the Eaton County Commission this week.  It is just a portion of the entire board meeting  and was provided by Eaton County. 


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