By GREG RUSSELL, Register Staff Writer
Cooke County officials have addressed recent national gun control debate by approving a resolution in support of the Texas Legislature’s advocacy of the Second Amendment.
Commissioners approved the special resolution during Monday’s regular meeting. Pct. 4 Commissioner Leon Klement said other counties throughout the United States have already taken this measure and Cooke County is following suit.
The resolution, Klement said, is a response to what many citizens see as “restrictive” gun control measures that infringe on the individual right to possess and bear arms. The 2012 shooting massacres in Aurora, Colo., and Newtown, Conn., have reignited debate about gun policy and have inspired more than 20 executive actions by Barack Obama’s presidential administration to change gun laws in the areas of background checks, mental health regulations and weapons concealment. The administration also seeks to curb the public availability of assault rifle weaponry.
In response, members of the 83rd Texas Legislature have proposed more than 20 bills that prevent bans against concealed firearms in public venues such as campuses.
All five Cooke County commissioners signed the resolution that upholds the legislature’s stance.
“Some counties are passing ordinances,” Klement said Monday. “We can’t pass ordinances but we can pass resolutions. I thought it was a good idea that maybe we ought to get involved with a grassroots-type organizational thing to support the state.”
Klement said he discussed the cause with Rep. Drew Springer and Cooke County Sheriff Terry Gilbert in hopes of forming more legality in support of gun ownership rights. He added that he and Pct. 1 Commissioner Gary Hollowell had plans to visit Austin later in the day and present the signed resolution to Springer and other participants in a scheduled Texas Association of Counties meeting.
“I think it’s very important and is a show of support on the local level,” Klement said.
But County Judge John Roane said the resolution shouldn’t be viewed as a formal protest or organized movement.
“It’s just us fulfilling the wishes of the majority of Cooke County citizens, I believe,” he said Monday. “It’s the citizens of Cooke County attempting to slow down the perceived erosion of our rights as they are given.”
Klement said later that he agreed, explaining that the resolution has more to do with supporting the Second Amendment than promoting gun ownership or militia mentality.
“It has nothing to do with being anti-government,” he said. “It’s just part of the Constitution. It gives us the right to keep and bear arms and I don’t think they ought to infringe on that. And it’s as simple as that. And if you don’t want a gun, you don’t have to have a gun.”
Klement credited the proposed Obama policies that enforce background checks.
“That’s not a bad thing,” he said. “The mental health aspect plays into this, and that’s one of the reasons for a background check. Maybe not everyone should be able to buy a gun.”
The commissioner also said it’s imperative that whoever does buy a gun be responsible about it.
“Don’t just buy a gun and keep it under your bed,” Klement said. “You shouldn’t have a gun if you don’t want to learn to use it properly.”