September 18, 2019 836 PM
ALPINE – Brewster County commissioners turned down a proposed “Second Amendment Sanctuary” resolution before a standing-room-only audience Wednesday after eight people spoke passionately in favor of the resolution.
The motion failed in a 3-2 vote. Presidio County in July earlier adopted a similar resolution. Jeff Davis County considered a similar resolution last month but ultimately decided against voting on it.
None of the three commissioners who voted no wanted to ban guns in general — though Commissioner Mike Pallanez said he would like to see a ban on assault weapons. All three said they objected to the wording of the resolution but might vote in favor of a reworded document.
Commissioner Betsy Esparza said she was a strong Second Amendment supporter but said she had a “hard time with the wording. It has no teeth.”
Commissioner Sara Allen Colando of Terlingua Ranch said the resolution was “not a good piece of paper” and the term “sanctuary” was not well-defined. She said it could be confused with “sanctuary cities” that oppose immigration enforcement.
Commissioner Ruben Ortega of Marathon said he favored the resolution and moved to approve it. When none of the other commissioners seconded the motion, County Judge Eleazar Cano provided the second — but the motion failed.
Locals also spoke in favor of the resolution. Rancher Joel Nelson called it “no brainer.” Citing his earlier military experience, he said the U.S. Code of Military Justice says a soldier has a “greater duty to disobey an unlawful order than to obey a lawful order.”
Law enforcement officers frequently will disobey an “unlawful order” and not take away someone’s gun, he said.
Artist and radio personality J.R. Smith said his father instructed him years ago, “Don’t ever let them take your guns away.”
Michael McDaniel, a resident of the Double Diamond subdivision south of Alpine said he has seen mountain lions, bears and other wild animals on his property and felt he needs guns to protect his family from animal predators.
Rick Keith, who has taught history for 20 years at Alpine High School, praised the Founding Fathers for creating the Constitution.
He said they recognized separation of powers as being necessary to keep any one element from getting too powerful and that included vertical separation between national, state and local governments.
Sheriff Ronny Dodson said some want to ban guns to those with mental illness but federal HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) rules make it impossible to determine if someone is suffering from mental illness.
“I ain’t taking away nobody’s guns,” he said.
He said he was showing a new deputy where his responsibilities ended south of Alpine. He said the deputy remarked about the size of the territory.
The deputy asked what he should do if he gets a call for a sexual assault in Sunny Glen — about seven miles west of Alpine.
As Dodson saw it, the victim or victims might need to protect themselves before he got there. “You’d better pray they have guns,” he told the deputy.