Statement of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians (“Tribe”) regarding the “Resolution to Reaffirm Sawyer County’s Commitment to Second Amendment of the United States Constitution and the Right to Bear Arms Under the Wisconsin Constitution.”
Editor's Note: The following statement is in response to the Sawyer County Board meeting taking place tonight, Thursday, July 16, whereby the Board is considering the above resolution and will be hearing public comments on the proposed resolution.
The Lac Courte Oreilles Tribe supports the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America. The Tribe also supports the constitutional rights of every law-abiding citizen in Wisconsin to keep and bear arms. The Tribe is in favor of law-abiding citizens having firearms to hunt and use in self-defense. It is well known that tribal members on the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation and throughout Sawyer County are avid hunters of wild game and continue to utilize their treaty rights to provide for themselves and their families. The tribal government has established its own hunting regulations to support this practice in a safe manner. Further, the Tribe created its own Law Enforcement Department over a decade ago. Its Law Enforcement Department is regulated by tribal policies and procedures and our officers are trained in state and federal law enforcement agencies. It has become necessary to utilize guns in law enforcement for the safety and welfare of the tribal community.
The rights and privileges to bear arms, as are granted under the Second Amendment are already established and fully recognized in our country and state. The Tribe is currently unaware of any actions or threats that could infringe upon the constitutional rights of the citizens of Sawyer County. Both are a part of our shared history. Likewise, the Tribe is unaware of any State or federal legislation that would infringe upon our constitutional rights to bear arms. In that sense, the resolution is speculative and does not identify any imminent threat to the Second Amendment in the U.S. Constitution nor the right to bear arms under the Wisconsin Constitution.
Despite all that, the Tribe realizes that certain gun control measures act as an effective tool in combatting senseless and tragic violence stemming from a lack of proper regulations pertaining to firearms. In relation to laws established for the safety and protection of our communities, the Tribe agrees with United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia who wrote, “like most rights, the rights secured by the 2nd amendment is not unlimited.” District of Columbia et al v. Heller. In furtherance of protecting communities from gun violence, bump stocks, which are attachments to guns that allow a semi-automatic gun to fire like an automatic weapon, were banned by the U.S. Justice Department in December of 2018. In March of 2019, bump stocks were classified as machine guns which bans them nationwide under existing gun control laws. This was enacted with similar values to the National Firearms Act which imposes restrictions on the sales of some of the most dangerous weapons such as machine guns and sawed-off shotguns.
Senseless gun violence has ravaged our communities. [i] There were one hundred and twenty-six (126) mass shootings in the United States between January of 2000 and July of 2014, which is more than any other country worldwide. Ironically, it took a public health pandemic, COVID-19, to assist in remedying another, the consistent and tragic loss of life through mass shootings. Since COVID-19 shut down much of the country, March of 2020 was the first month the United States did not have a school shooting since 2002.
Common sense gun violence prevention measures are constitutional. Limits on high capacity magazines are reasonable as are background checks to prevent convicted felons, illegal drug users, those convicted of domestic violence and individuals with mental health issues from utilizing firearms in ways which threaten or endanger the public. According to a March 2016 Lancet study, implementing federal background checks could reduce firearm deaths by 56.9%. Furthermore, a Quinnipiac Poll showed that 97% of gun owners support universal background checks, 67% support a ban on assault weapons, 83% support mandatory waiting periods for gun purchases and 89% of adults with a gun approve of laws to prevent the purchase of guns by the mentally ill. While not perfect, background checks prevent criminals and other dangerous people from acquiring firearms to use illegally. Studies have also shown that a woman’s risk of being murdered increases 500% if a gun is present in the home. According to Defense Manpower Data Center, between 2001 and 2012, six thousand four hundred and ten (6,410) women were killed with a gun by an intimate partner in the United States.
With all those facts in mind, the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Governing Board opposes the adoption of the “Resolution to Reaffirm Sawyer County’s Commitment to the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution and the Right to Bear Arms under the Wisconsin Constitution” as speculative and unnecessary for all the reasons mentioned above. Thank you.
[i] Sandy Hook; Columbine; the Las Vegas shooting; Virginia State; Parkland, Florida; the shooting of a mosque in southeastern Wisconsin and the domestic violence shooting in the Town of Round Lake in July of 2016 are all recent examples of senseless gun violence resulting in death of innocent citizens in our State and Country.