Petition Urges County to Pass Second Amendment Proclamation

Commissioners: At Least Five Local Cities Have Already Passed Similar Measures


Lewis County is inching toward becoming a “Second Amendment sanctuary,” joining a growing number of jurisdictions trying to fend off potential firearm restrictions with non-binding declarations.

And if Lewis County commissioners do go forward with what would be a symbolic resolution, it would fall in line with at least five local cities. Winlock, Morton, Mossyrock, Toledo and Napavine have all passed their own local Second Amendment proclamations.

Those proclamations popped up from 2019 to 2020, all resembling similar sanctuary-type resolutions across the nation. The goal is to subvert what some see as unconstitutional restrictions and lend support to law enforcement agencies or elected officials who might refuse to enforce them.

On June 24, 2019, the City of Morton passed its own resolution, which was presented by Police Chief Roger Morningstar, according to public records. The resolution came after Morningstar publicly announced he wouldn’t “actively seek out”  violators of I-1639, the voter-approved initiative that raised the legal purchase age for semi-automatic rifles, along with other restrictions.

According to the document, Morton “will not assist, support or condone any unconstitutional infringement” of the Second Amendment.

“Furthermore, the City of Morton recognizes that the first and last protectors of the United States Constitution are the people of the United States,” it reads.

This week, Morningstar attended a county meeting where commissioners once again discussed the potential for a countywide resolution. Over the Fourth of July weekend, the conservative — and often controversial — police chief shared a meme of a mid-toast Leonardo DiCaprio with the words, “you’re celebrating today because regular citizens had military grade weapons.”

Morton was one of the earliest Lewis County cities to pass a sanctuary resolution. It was followed by Napavine, Mossyrock, Winlock and Toledo in the winter of 2020. The wording of Mossyrock’s Feb. 13 proclamation exactly mirrored Morton’s. Morton police provide law enforcement services for both towns.

On the county level, commissioners have offered varied responses to the idea of a Second Amendment sanctuary proclamation. In 2019, then-commissioners declined some residents’ request for a proclamation, instead waiting for the courts to issue a decision on I-1639. It was upheld as constitutional.

Now, first-term commissioner Sean Swope has re-ignited the push, at the request of Sheriff Rob Snaza.

While Commissioner Lindsey Pollock has thrown support behind a resolution acknowledging the importance of the whole constitution, Swope this week insisted that the first and second amendments need to be the focus.

“I do feel that when you think of the different amendments that are being attacked, the first and second without question are being attacked,” he said.

A petition submitted to the county by Adna resident Karl Von Moos included a couple hundred signatures and “strongly” encouraged commissioners to make Lewis County “a sanctuary county for our unalienable right to keep and bear arms which shall not be infringed.”

The petition read, “we the people of Lewis County declare that we will not support firearm laws which are repugnant to the state and federal constitution.”

Swope pointed to a number of gun control measures being considered by Congress, as well as Twitter’s decision to ban former president Donald Trump after the deadly Jan. 6 capitol insurrection.

“When you can censor arguably the most powerful man in the world, the president of the United States of America, there’s an attack on free speech,” Swope said.

This week, commissioners informally agreed to merge Pollock and Swope’s vision for the proclamation.


5 comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Matt Evans

I think it is time for our local politicians to stop pandering to the loudest and most vocal in order to win them over. Leadership takes constructive thought, careful consideration and a big picture approach to solving real issues. All the county commissioners are doing right now is allowing Rob Snaza and his posse of rule breaking followers to run rough shot over the decent people who live on this county.

Snaza’s sheep comment started it all by standing against the mask mandate; now the proclamation to make Lewis County a 2nd amendment sanctuary? What does that even mean? There is so much blind ignorance and misinformation involved in that move.

Snaza should ask the commission to make a proclamation announcing Lewis County a sanctuary for common sense. That seems to his the real goal. Snaza is a puppeteer working the masses into a frenzy to suit his own political goals… which is is to go against anything Inslee does.

He should be focusing on public safety instead - which is his job.

Wake of commissioners - be leaders, not puppets.

Friday, July 9
Bill Serrahn

Of course it's only symbolic, as Lewis County is subject to Washington State Law as well as Federal Law, regardless of proclamations.

We are a unique county in that we are a combination of urban and rural. A bit schizophrenia because we are neither fish nor fowl, but a little of each. Being in the I-5 economic corridor, and having a couple of small cities, we have interests similar to the more urban counties in Washington, but we are also a huge rural county with people whose interests more align with other predominantly rural counties in Eastern Washington.

We want that urban economic development but we don't want their liberalism or their gun control. I hate to say this folks, but economic development draws smart and talented people and they tend to be more liberal.

According to the article, Winlock, Morton, Mossyrock, Toledo and Napavine started this. Of course they are all rural small towns. Not Centralia or Chehalis. So the Commissioners are pandering to the rural sentiment in passing these "feel good" resolutions which have no effect on the actual law but do tell the World that we don't like what's happening in our liberally dominated state and now federal governments.

Personally, I think our BOCC should stick to the actual business of running the county and stay out of extreme political controversy. But, perhaps, if you can't bring home the bacon, the next best thing is to pander to folks extreme emotions.

Saturday, July 10

Trump was deplatformed for repeatedly violating a private company’s terms of service around inciting violence, hate speech & false information.

Is this what Swope wants to encourage? A dangerous armed trumpesque sh*tshow all over the county, which hurts children, spouses & neighbors? Basically, ruin everything special & unique about Lewis County?

Sunday, July 11
LL Hauer

I strongly encourage our county commissioners to refrain from making any proclamation in support of designating Lewis County a Second Amendment sanctuary.

I encourage them to examine carefully and with wisdom who is requesting this action and what the results could be.

The towns that have passed such proclamations include those that have been the site of some of the most radical, fringe behavior in our county. The recent Mossyrock rally gave the introductory place on stage to Eric Rohde of the Washington Three Percenters (which has been officially designated in Canada to be a domestic terrorist organization), followed shortly by retreat organizer Joey Gibson of Patriot Prayer of Portland (a group associated with numerous incidences of aggression, divisiveness and hate speech at best and violence at worst). Morton’s Chief Roger Morningstar has been a vocal proponent and rally attendee voicing partisan, divisive and hostile right-wing views in various way covered in the Chronicle. Winlock Mayor Svenson recently shut down an entire county mayor’s meeting through a pointless but disruptive protest about mask wearing. These people do not represent the majority of Lewis County residents.

The article stated that this proclamation is being promoted mainly by Commissioner Swope at the urging of Sheriff Rob Snaza. The Sheriff should most definitely not be given the political cover of a proclamation that is legally meaningless but would certainly continue to muddy the waters of what is constitutional or not when it comes to discussions of Second Amendment rights and his duties as an officer of the law. It is troubling that he's asking for this proclamation and his personal motivations and purposes should be deeply questioned.

The Sheriff’s role in this movement is deeply problematic to me. He took a very strong and very public stand shoulder to shoulder with radical, armed right-wing elements at the June 2020 rally that brought our county negative national attention. The choices he made there to so explicitly pick a partisan side even though he is responsible for upholding the law for every single resident of Lewis County left me terrified, to be frank. I now know what it’s like to live in doubt that if I need the support of law enforcement it might not be there for me due to my being public and identifiable in holding views that would render me a “sheep” in the sheriff’s eyes and possibly that of his deputies and potentially unworthy of their protection.

I understand Sheriff Snaza also sat at Mayor Svenson’s side during the mayor’s mask protest, obviously in tacit support of the mayor’s pointless and harmful protest. This brings echoes of the actions of Hitler’s “brownshirts” who through their presence and implied aggression intimidated others into silence, fostering Hitler’s rise to power. I can’t think of any other reason for the Sheriff to have joined the Mayor in that meeting.

I believe the County Commissioners need to provide greater oversight of the Lewis County Sheriff’s department. I feel that is very much in order during these turbulent times when we all want to be able to count on law enforcement officials to protect the interests of all county residents regardless of what they believe. Sheriff Snaza’s present actions in pressing for this legally meaningless proclamation leave me deeply uneasy as to his motivations. Given that he has already voiced refusal to uphold laws based on whether he “feels” or “believes” them to be constitutional, I urge our county commissioners to not take an action that provides him further cover to not enforce laws on the books that he and his cronies don’t like.

Wisdom tells us this kind of proclamation could move us further and further away from the constitutionally established system of law and order. This system has checks and balances intended to serve all people equally and to support what is deemed to be truly constitutional. Such a proclamation would increase the possibility of “justice" being meted out at the whim of the county sheriff, a few police chiefs and in accord with the beliefs of only a 100 or so of the most shrill and fanatical Second Amendment proponents. This kind of proclamation would only serve the interest of a tiny fraction of the Lewis County citizenry, but has the potential to add to the growing partisanship, radicalization and violence that is splitting our country apart. I fear the potential for a proclamation such as this to act as an endorsement of attitudes and views that could easily give rise to a dangerous group of brownshirts or future insurrectionists of the kind that stormed the Capitol on January 6.

What I do support is Commissioner Pollock’s proposal for a proclamation supporting our collective commitment in this county to adhering to the Constitution. This approach has the possibility of promoting dialogue and unity about what it means for something to be “constitutional.” If the commissioners were to take this kind of approach, it would show all Lewis County residents (and even people on the national level whose attention has been drawn here by the negative publicity generated by Sheriff and more recently Rep. Jim Walsh) that in the end we are a county of decency, integrity and patriotism when all is said and done.

Sunday, July 11
Matt Evans

I encourage the community to write letters to the commissioners. Here is my sample letter. You can contact them through the Lewis County Website.

Please pay attention to those of us in the community who support common sense gun ownership. There are a lot of us.

I grew up with guns in my life and with that was taught about the importance of gun safety and the responsibility that comes with gun ownership. I personally do not own a gun nor enjoy them, but I know many people that do and support their rights to have them for personal safety, hunting and other safe things they may do with them.

I am so disappointed to see our County Commission even considering a proclamation to make Lewis County a Sanctuary County for the 2nd amendment that has been endorsed by the Lewis County Sherriff who has repeatedly jumped into the political arguments surrounding the reasonableness of Laws he is bound to uphold surrounding public safety.

Any proclamation in regards to this matter is simply irresponsible on your end in regards to public safety and the overall public good. It is not the responsibility of the county commission to foray into discussion surrounding constitutionality of any matter. You have been elected as a body to represent the good people of Lewis County in the capacity of managing our public services, ensuring public safety, upholding State and National Laws as well as setting and enforcing statutes that are within your privy.

I suggest you stop pandering to the loudest and most visible block of people that are following the poor leadership of Sheriff Snaza and start asking yourselves what your job is. It certainly is not to give into the persistent ignorant or angry among us; to throw the baby out with the bath water..

I encourage you to reach out and listen to the wider community you represent; if you are going to take into account a petition from Snaza groupies. You have the responsibility to represent all of us equally.

Monday, July 12