The Baker City Council approved a resolution Tuesday, May 25 that declares the city a Second Amendment sanctuary and states that the council opposes “any legislation that would infringe upon the rights of the People to keep and bear arms.”
Resolution 3885 passed by a 5-2 vote, with Councilors Jason Spriet and Heather Sells voting no after expressing concern about some of the language.
Councilor Johnny Waggoner Sr. proposed the resolution. He said a resident had asked him if there was anything the council could do to protect residents’ Second Amendment rights.
“The Second Amendment to me is the basis of one of our rights,” Waggoner said. “Is (the resolution) enforceable by the city? No, not really, but when you have a governor that does not listen to the people, these types of things are the only thing that we can do to show our people and the governor that this is something that we, as a people, on this side of the state, it’s important to us,” said Waggoner.
Mayor Kerry McQuisten said the resolution adds a fourth layer of protection, the other three being a similar ordinance that Baker County voters overwhelmingly approved in November 2018, along with the Oregon and federal constitutions.
Spriet, who voted against approving the resolution, said he fully supports the Second Amendment.
“I do think there’s some language here that might be interpreted in a way that we hadn’t intended as a council,” Spriet said.
Sells, who cast the other opposing vote, also said she absolutely supports the Second Amendment.
“I do feel like our words matter and how they’re written in here matters, how they’re portrayed and how other people read it matters and so I agree,” Sells said. “I’d really like to see some of the language adjusted to better support a more generalized resolution,” said Sells.
Spriet noted that some clauses in the resolution refer to “the council” having a particular viewpoint on an issue, while others ascribe these to the “citizens of Baker City.”
Spriet said he would like to see the resolution be consistent and refer to what the council believes rather than seeming to speak for all citizens.
McQuisten said that in the fourth “whereas” clause, which states that “the citizens of Baker City are opposed to any legislation considered by the Oregon State Legislature or the United States Congress that would infringe upon the right to keep and bear arms,” Waggoner was referring to the 2018 election when county voters approved the Second Amendment Preservation ordinance, with 5,432 yes votes to 2,736 no votes.
Spriet also mentioned the section in the resolution which reads: “Be it further resolved that the Baker City Council will not appropriate any funds for any enforcement of unconstitutional laws against the People of Baker City, Oregon.”
Spriet said he believes that clause could be interpreted as the city not fully funding the police department.
“That passage there really gives me a lot of pause because I think it could easily be interpreted by another council or future people that might say that the council is willing to defund the police if they enforce laws that the council at the time disagrees with,” Spriet said.
Multiple city residents who attended Tuesday’s meeting encouraged councilors to approve the resolution, including Tom Hughes.
“I strongly support the resolution,” Hughes said. “I feel if we don’t stand at a local level and start to put measures into place now, I’m very concerned that some of the same people who have so easily given up and continually give up their freedoms because they were afraid of a virus with a 99 plus percent survival rate will easily give up their Second Amendment rights as well.”
Hughes said he believes the only thing keeping the “liberal left from destroying America” is the right to keep and bear arms, giving people the ability to defend against what he described as a tyrannical, corrupt government.
David McGuire also supported the resolution, saying he believes law-abiding citizens have paid the price while criminals victimize innocent people.
“I think we should have something that protects us,” McGuire said.
Marvin Sundean voiced his support for the resolution, saying there are three primary reasons the Second Amendment exists.
“The third most important was for hunting, the second most important was for self protection, the primary reason, the number one reason, was so that we could protect ourselves from a tyrannical government,” Sundean said. “The events over the last year have caused me great concern.”
In other business Tuesday, the council:
• approved the audit report presented by Rob Gaslin of Gaslin Accounting.
• approved a change order adding $150,000 to the $5.7 million contract with Gyllenberg Construction for building the city’s new wastewater lagoon. The cause for the request, according to a report to councilors from Public Works Director Michelle Owen, is a series of February storms in the Gulf Coast region that closed petrochemical plants and led to an increase in the cost of vinyl that will be used to line the lagoon.
• learned from Owen that she will talk to the Public Works Advisory Committee and bring more information to the council next month regarding a request from a resident to pave a section of Indiana Avenue.