County won’t be 2A sanctuary county


Dubois County is not becoming a 2A sanctuary county at this time.

A resolution for the county to be a Second Amendment sanctuary county was proposed. Dubois County Commissioner Nick Hostetter, who supports having a resolution, motioned for its approval. No one seconded the motion, so it died.

Commissioner Elmer Brames, who is against the idea, made a motion to postpone any further discussion on this resolution indefinitely, “until something would happen to change somebody’s mind or members of this board were replaced, that the discussion on this subject would be over with.” That also died for lack of a second.

Local business owner Eric Jochim asked the commissioners last month to consider the resolution. The proposed resolution stated that the county will not adopt any rule or ordinance regarding the right of citizens to bear arms that violates the Constitution of the United States or of the state of Indiana, it will defend the people’s right to bear arms as established by the United States Supreme Court, and it will adhere to the limitations of Indiana Code.

Two residents voiced their opposition to the resolution.

Desiree Castillejos said she moved to Jasper for a new job, and because this is a nice area to live and raise her family. When she learned that the county was considering the resolution, “I thought to myself, ‘Wow, is it really a great place to live? Should I stay here?’ I mean, it’s really something that shook me.”

Castillejos told the commissioners that more than 1,360 shootings have taken the lives of children, teachers and police officers since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012.

“Do we want to embolden people to do things like this?” she asked. “And consider the situation about mental health care. Mental issues have been exacerbated through COVID.

“So now I’m even more worried about this. And I am worried about this proclamation. I am worried because you’re sending a message if you pass this.”

She is concerned that this would discourage people from moving to the area. “We have a lot of great companies here in Jasper,” she said. “Are we saying that if you are the brightest and the greatest, don’t come here. Because we are sending the message that we want to carry our guns and we don’t want to respect the law.”

Emily Klein of Jasper said gun-led violence has been labeled by scientists as a major public health epidemic. “Every day more than 100 Americans are shot and killed, over 230 are wounded,” she said. “In Indiana, on average per year, almost 1000 people were killed by gun violence. We’re the 20th highest rate of deaths in the U.S.”

She added that school-aged children now have a higher risk of being affected by gun violence. “There was a study that cited this,” she said, “that between Tuesday and 1999 and 2017, there was an increase in gun violence on those aged five to 18 by almost 40,000 deaths.”

Klein also talked about last month’s shootings in Colorado and Atlanta and said that the weapons that were used were easy to obtain. “Commonsense gun laws requiring a waiting period of ban assault weapons could have prevented both shootings,” she said.

She questioned the effect of passing such a resolution to make the county a Second Amendment sanctuary county. “The majority of these resolutions are legally meaningless,” Klein said. “But they undermine the rule of law, cause confusion, foster distrust in law enforcement and may deter people from reporting individuals who may hurt themselves or others.”

Hostetter said he believes passing the resolution would send a message to federal officials.

“It’s my hope that enough counties and cities will become 2A sanctuaries and adopt similar measures so the message will be heard by our federal government,” he said. “And maybe they will quit their assault on the Second Amendment.

Hostetter said he is not encouraging more guns. “I’m not suggesting that people can carry a gun into a gun-free zone. I’m not suggesting people go out and buy guns. I’m not encouraging more gun ownership,” he said. “I’m simply saying that I believe in the Second Amendment. I believe most of our county would agree that they believe in the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms.”

He said gun control will not have any effect on criminals doing crimes.

“I think if we want to fix the gun problem in the United States, we need to start with the mental health,” Hostetter said. “Gun control won’t have any impact on crime or criminals. It doesn’t address the broken mental health systems. And it doesn’t address the underlying causes of the violence.”

Commissioner Chad Blessinger has said previously that he did not see the resolution having any real effect in operations, which is why he did not support its passage on Monday. But he did not support the idea of not ever discussing it in the future.

“If somebody wants to reach out to me again and they want to discuss it further, I’m open to continuing the dialogue,” he said. “I don’t want to make a blanket statement that I’m not going to touch this again.”

The commissioners also:

  • Accepted bids for the security center and community corrections center, subject to the bond sales being completed. Krempp Construction of Jasper will be the general trades contractor, for $15,960,000. Harrell-Fish Inc. of Bloomington will handle the mechanical work for $6,848,848 and Weyer Electric of Ferdinand will complete the electrical work for $2,251,075.
  • Extended the local emergency disaster declaration for another month and agreed to keep the mask mandate in place for county-owned buildings. The statewide mask mandate became an advisory today though local entities like governments, businesses and building owners can choose to have more stringent rules for their facilities and areas.
  • Agreed to improvements to the PSA alert system between the Dubois County Courthouse and Courthouse Annex. County Emergency Management Director Tammy Humbert and custodian Scott Hopf will take their plan, which will cost $4,445, to the Dubois County Council for funding.
  • Were officially told that Stuart Wilson will be the next 911 director. The commissioners previously approved hiring one of the two final candidates for the job, which a committee did in mid-March.
  • Met Ryan Young, the new ambulance director at Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center. He replaces Suzan Henke, who is retiring.
  • Agreed to purchase two adult and two baby mannequins for CPR training given to county employees. New guidance released by the American Heart Association in March requires that they use feedback in mannequins in their CPR training; the ambulance department provides training for county employees, county Ambulance Director Suzan Henke said. Since the $2,700 needed for the purchase is not in her budget, Henke will request the funding form the Dubois County Council.
  • Approved a request from the Special Olympics to use a portion of County Road 100 South near the Jasper Youth Sports Complex between 7 and 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 11, for its annual Fun Run fundraiser.
  • Approved a proclamation naming April 11 to 17 as Public Safety/Telecommunications Week.

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