Second Amendment Protection Act Hearing and Testimony

evought's picture

There will be a hearing for SB 39,
the Second Amendment Protection Act (SAPA)
on Tuesday, 19 January 2021. The Sheriff's Auxiliary supports this bill. The Commander's testimony to the hearing is quoted below. You may submit your own witness testimony to the hearing at : http://www.libertytools.org/LibertyTools/witness/witness2.php?template=110

The Lawrence County Sheriff's Auxiliary (LCSA) is a unit of armed, non-peace officer volunteers serving under the county sheriff. I am the Commander and a founding officer of the LCSA. With the caveat noted below in respect to 1.460, the LCSA supports this bill with the approval of the Lawrence County Sheriff.

As a volunteer service, the Sheriff's Auxiliary depends on the existence of regular citizens in the community who already possess arms and are skilled in their use. As volunteers, with very little exception, we provide our own kit and equipment, including arms and ammunition, which we are expected to bring with us when we muster. We may be deployed at any moment with little or no warning, dropping whatever we happen to be doing in our own lives to answer the call. In one case in recent years, a manhunt for an escaped fugitive accused of murder, we had volunteers in the field within 6 minutes of the initial request. We are, in a very literal sense, modern Minute Men.

Restrictions on personal arms-- especially unpredictable restrictions made at the federal level farthest from our access to local representation-- hurt our service and our ability to perform our community mission. Good firearms are often expensive. They can be valued heirlooms. Our ability to purchase arms on a competitive market and to freely resell them when we wish to improve or upgrade, when we retire, or when we leave both life and service together is a requisite for recruiting the volunteers we need today no less than it was in our Founding Era. The more expensive personal arms are to buy, the more time and paperwork involved, the more uncertainty over whether we will be able to resell them in an open market in the future, the harder it is to balance being a volunteer AND a farmer, tradesmen, retiree, clerk, doctor, teacher, waitress, parent, etc.

This is also true of access to community skills. We do not merely draw on existing community ownership of arms but also community familiarity with those arms, the potential pool of volunteers with some level of training and marksmanship with those same arms which will be used in service. We cannot build those skills from nothing in an instant. Without a pre-existing base of skill among citizens at large, the pool of volunteers cannot shrink and grow in response to changing circumstances. This is the same reason Leonard Woods-- the general for home our military base was named for-- founded camps in the US prior to our entry into WWI in order to foster martial skills in the community. His efforts increased the supply of recruits with existing skill when the military suddenly had to switch to a war footing as he foresaw.

Even if we did not have these practical considerations, each one of us takes an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of both the United States and that of the State of Missouri, including the 2nd Amendment and Article I Section 23 respectively. We cannot provide service to the community if we forswear the rights of the citizens to whom we have a duty to protect. The LCSA believes that SAPA will provide a valuable protection to our right to keep and bear arms as well as uphold the Constitutional assurance that any minor regulation of this fundamental right-- which was never delegated to a central government-- happens at the state level and with therefore with the highest available representation.

With respect to Section 1.460, we have this caveat to the bill as proposed: we are concerned that the proposed wording may expose both our volunteers and the deputies we serve alongside to spurious +personal+ lawsuits and potential loss of the ability to serve in law enforcement when actions are taken in the course of duty pursuant to state law which may incidentally infringe on the right to keep and bear arms. A licensed peace officer, a volunteer serving under a law officer, or even a medical responder may "knowingly" but temporarily disarm an individual with no intent to infringe their constitutional right to keep and bear arms. This could occur when they are detained in connection to an unrelated offense or even when an injured victim is unconscious or in an altered mental state where therefore they must be temporarily disarmed for public safety. This bill as written removes sovereign, official, and qualified immunity. An officer or volunteer sued in their personal capacity might lose everything for performing their duty even if they eventually win in court against a meritless lawsuit. It should be made clear that we have no issue with their being consequences for willful violation of the restriction on state actors enforcing the federal laws and acts called out here (imposing that separation between state and federal purviews is the entire point of the bill). We do feel, however, that the wording should be tightened to protect those acting in good faith to carry out lawful duties in state, county, municipal service.

Yours In Service,

MAJ Eric Vought, Commanding
Lawrence County Sheriff's Auxiliary

There is a version of this bill in the House as well, SB 85 sponsored by Jered Taylor. At the moment, both versions are identical.

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