Lewis County Commissioners Pass “Citizens’ Rights” Proclamation

Measure Stops Short of Second Amendment Sanctuary Language


Lewis County’s new “Citizens’ Rights” proclamation, passed Tuesday, is more subdued than the “Second Amendment sanctuary” vision sketched out by some law enforcement officials and locals.

When asked whether the proclamation made Lewis County a “Second Amendment sanctuary,” commissioners danced around the question.

“We took our oath to uphold the constitution of the United States of America and the state of Washington, and so if you want to label that as a sanctuary county, sure by all means,” Swope said. He later added, “the terminology is semantics.”

Commissioner Gary Stamper told The Chronicle that “the proclamation speaks for itself,” while Commissioner Lindsey Pollock did not add on to what her colleagues said.

The term “sanctuary” has been a point of disagreement at a county level, with Pollock suggesting the word would lump Lewis County in with the immigration policies of liberal jurisdictions.

But in pushing the county to adopt a Second Amendment resolution, Lewis County Sheriff Rob Snaza has used the term “sanctuary.” And on Tuesday, Frank Corbin, who has sat on several county boards and committees, said he would “encourage commissioners to not shy away” from the word.

Regardless, a primary purpose of the document aligns with the sanctuary proclamations that have popped up in at least five local cities and in jurisdictions around the country: to resist incoming firearm restrictions.

The document points to “recent federal and state actions” that have “sought to limit or eliminate certain traditionally-held rights of the people” under the state and federal Constitution, and gives a nod to Lewis County citizens who “have expressed particular concern that their Second Amendment rights/right to bear arms be preserved unimpaired.”

The proclamation doesn’t go as far as Morton’s, for example, which says the city “will not assist, support or condone any unconstitutional infringement” of the Second Amendment.

Lewis County’s version instead focuses on the state and federal constitutions in their entirety. In chronicling the Bill of Rights, the document names each right guaranteed under the First Amendment, although it makes no mention of the freedom of the press.

The exclusion was in “no way” intentional, Swope told The Chronicle, saying “free speech, free press, I think are foundational to the greatness of America.”

Once adopted and signed, a packed house in the commissioners’ chambers applauded. In attendance was Snaza, Morton Police Chief Roger Morningstar, Winlock Mayor Brandon Svenson and U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler challenger Joe Kent.

During public comment, Svenson — who serves as the chair of the Lewis County Republicans — displayed a hand-painted sign reading “RINOS,” a pejorative meaning “Republican In Name Only.”

“When the citizens of Lewis County vote for somebody with an R in front of their name, they assume it means Republican, not RINO,” Svenson said.

It was an apparent jab at Pollock, who introduced a proclamation acknowledging Pride Month last month and who pushed to have the “Citizens’ Rights” proclamation encompass the whole Constitution, rather than just the Second Amendment.

“I really for the life of me can’t understand why it’s taken this long to get here. Just last month a proclamation was passed. It seemed effortless, even though it pandered to the 2%,” Svenson said. “And I don’t mean the LGBT community. I mean the Lollipop Guild, a group of bullies who’ve done the LGBTQ community a disservice as far as I’m concerned.”

The Lewis County Lollipop Guild is a local LGBTQ activist organization behind the “Lewis County Welcomes Everyone” and “Rural Americans Against Racism” signs and stickers. It’s also a loosely organized community group.

The names thrown at Pollock, including RINO, according to Swope, are “disheartening.”

“I just want to say how refreshing it is to be able to disagree with Commissioner Pollock and even Commissioner Stamper and for us to have a decision and we don’t have to name-call, we don’t have to be offended, but then when we step away from it, still carry on a good healthy relationship,” he said.