Manatee County to become a "2nd Amendment Sanctuary"

Dawn Kitterman
BRADENTON  — In a regular meeting Tuesday, Manatee County Commissioners moved to direct the county attorney to begin work on a resolution designating Manatee County a 2nd Amendment sanctuary county. The motion received six votes in favor with one commissioner absent at the time of the vote.

The item was added to Tuesday’s meeting agenda sometime the same evening as the deadline for written public comments had closed—February 10. It was added under commissioner agenda items by Commissioner Jason Bearden, who was elected in November.

In seeking support for the measure, Bearden told his colleagues that a majority of counties in Florida had already adopted such measures. Bearden questioned why Manatee County had not yet adopted its own resolution declaring the county a gun sanctuary, arguing that a truly conservative board should support such an action. 

"With all the gun regulations going on right now, this would be a good opportunity to send a message to Joe Biden that his unconstitutional policies will not be tolerated here in Manatee County," Bearden said, omitting the title of President from Biden’s name. "And he can take his policies and stick it where the sun don’t shine," Bearden added. 

Bearden did not specifically identify the federal policies he referenced as unconstitutional, but stated Tuesday that he was not elected to a county-wide seat to be "politically correct" but to "protect our God-given rights." Bearden said that he believed the measure is one largely supported by constituents. 

Despite Tuesday's agenda deadline for submission of written public comments having passed, many county citizens attempted to reach their commissioners in opposition to the proposal by email—with some opting to complete the online written comment form regardless. Emails and comments received on the item were attached to Tuesday’s agenda following an agenda update on Monday. 

Nearly four dozen written comments were recorded, with many expressing frustration with what they referred to as a "waste of time and taxpayer money." Other citizens reminded commissioners that February 14—the date of the meeting and vote—was also the anniversary of a mass shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in which 17 were killed. 

Several members of the public wrote that they had safety concerns with such a measure and asked whether the local sheriff had been consulted. None of the written public comments or emails attached to Tuesday’s agenda update were in support of creating a resolution designating Manatee County as a "gun sanctuary." 

Commissioner Mike Rahn acknowledged the many emails sent to commissioners over the weekend, but offered assurances to residents who had concerns that designating Manatee County a gun sanctuary would not "increase violence, guns, or crimes with guns." Rahn reiterated the point raised by Bearden, that many Florida counties and/or cities had already adopted their own similar policies. 

Commissioner Amanda Ballard said such a preemptive measure was an important one, agreeing with points made by Rahn and Bearden. Ballard added, "What this is doing is saying that if there are state or federal laws that are contrary to the second amendment—in the event that those occur or be put into place—that Manatee County will not enforce those laws against the second amendment rights of our citizens." 

In response to safety concerns raised by the public, Commissioner James Satcher offered that allowing "the good people to arm themselves" was the most effective way to curb crime. Satcher said this was evidenced by the City of Kennesaw, GA, his previous hometown, having adopted an ordinance in 1982 that required all heads of a household to own a firearm. Satcher conceded that the city's law was mostly "symbolic" but added that from the time the law was passed, crime plummeted and there had been "no murders or violent crime" since its adoption. 

The Kennesaw ordinance referenced by Satcher, Ordinance Sec. 34-21, was amended to provide broad exemptions including for residents who do not want—or believe—in owning a firearm. Since the adoption of the ordinance, the population of Kennesaw has grown from roughly 5,000 in 1982 to over 33,000 today. Crime reports publicly available for download on the City of Kennesaw’s website show that between 2015 and 2016 incidents of aggravated assault rose by 20 percent, reported rapes rose by 33 percent, and one murder was reported. Although the city did see decreases in some violent crime statistics, and its reported crime rate is much lower than the national average, between 2016 and 2018 reported rapes increased, and in 2019 another homicide was reported. 

In 2007, a police lieutenant of the criminal investigation division in Kennesaw told Reuters that the city’s gun law may have helped deter criminals but credited proactive policing and close police liaison with the community as the reason for the city's low crime rates. 

Before the vote, Chairman Kevin Van Ostenbridge proposed an amendment to the motion, suggesting a change in language from "gun sanctuary county" to "Second Amendment sanctuary county." Van Ostenbridge acknowledged that while both mean essentially the same thing, a change in the name might help to abate some public opposition or confusion about the purpose or intent of the resolution. 

"I am a supporter of the second amendment and I think in ways the second amendment has already been violated because it does clearly state that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed upon. I think the government has already crossed that line, in my opinion," Van Ostenbridge said without detailing the specific way or instances where he feels the right has been infringed. Van Ostenbridge added that he supports creating a "sanctuary to one of the amendments to this country that we feel is under attack by the federal government."

In his closing remarks, Bearden encouraged U.S. gun manufacturers to consider Manatee County’s tax abatement program. The program is designed to encourage new businesses to relocate and/or establish in the area. 

"This would essentially create more jobs, good paying jobs, this is just good all around," said Bearden. "It could create economic growth, possibly." 

Van Ostenbridge echoed Bearden’s invitation to potential gun manufacturers, stating his perspective that the local job sector could use more "diversity" beyond tourism, construction, and health care.  

With the unanimous support of all members present, the motion passed 6-0 with Commissioner George Kruse absent. A resolution drawn by the county attorney will return to the board in a future meeting for its final adoption. 

Reader Comments
Kim Kirk
FEB 16, 2023  •  We can’t keep waiting for elections and hope people no who they are voting for, so many vote straight ticket for R or D to say they voted! We have to organize and protest, continuously send e- mails, phone calls insist on town hall meetings. So many complain, we must get people involved!!!!!!
FEB 16, 2023  •  This commission just will not address the county's needs. They should focus on cleaning up the mess Hopes and his deputy administrators Bishop, DePol and Reinshuttle and HR have created.
Jeff Greiner
FEB 16, 2023  •  With the state moving in this direction, this is probably just a diversion to hope we forget how these RE developer commissioners want to destroy our beaches and get it off the front page.
Jeff Greiner
FEB 16, 2023  •  This works just fine as long as committing a crime with a gun puts you away for a very very long time! (Add as many "very's" as you like, I'm all for it!)
FEB 16, 2023  •  good! libturds leave
FEB 16, 2023  •  Stop calling it "a God given right." It was written by man and referred to a time when everyone needed to protect themselves in a new wild country.
Chad Peterson
FEB 16, 2023  •  It's terrifying that mentally deranged individuals can legally acquire and carry guns openly. We don't live in an open war zone! Why does anyone need a side arm to go to Publix? I love the weather but question how long I can live in FloridaStan. It's getting beyond beserd. While the politicians have 24/7 security. WE don't.
FEB 16, 2023  •  Stupid is as stupid does! This proposal is nothing more than keeping the "Gov" happy. It's a prime example of Maga's pleasing Maga's.
Carol Wigginton
FEB 16, 2023  •  Lions and Tigers have great Strength, Fast Speed, Sharp Claws and Teeth to protect themselves. Crocodiles and Gators have Tough Hides, Great Swimmers, Sharp Teeth and Strong Jaws to protect themselves. Man has no such armor but figured out a way to protect himself through the use of weapons - guns being one of them. Man passed laws in regard to them for our safety. The majority of gun owners respect and obey those laws. But there are always some who don’t. We don't punish the majority of law abiders for crimes committed by law breakers. Thank you.
FEB 16, 2023  •  County Sources Revealed….. totally unnecessary post
FEB 16, 2023  •  SOURCES REVEAL- Vanessa Baugh is the first cousin of Jason Bearden. Now that explains why those two hillbillies look the same. What makes matters worse, sources on the 9th floor confirmed that Bearden and Baugh, with the Shetland pony have been in a twisted, sick, demented love affair. Bearden denies it and advised that he is part of LGBTQ. The “G” part. Not surprised in the least. Speaking of G, let’s update readers on George “Need a drink” Kruse. He went to Peekaboo lounge to get Jess. Apparently he went to fisticuffs once again, when he fought a patron over a drink on the bar that he did not purchase. It turned violent. The patron was severely injured when he punched Kruse in the mouth, only to be cut by razor sharp fake teeth. Neither was arrested. Jess returned to her shift and sources reveal, she made $2.87 for the night. Kruse, went to the nearest liquor store and did what he does best - drink. KVO and Hopes are now competing in the smallest man competition. Both are claiming the title. Little people are outraged by having these two as part of their class of people. Washington looks forward to being the Master of Ceremonies for the rededication of the Confederate Monument. Washington is deeply disappointed that members in District 2 are not coming to the gala event. BOCC members are shopping at Bealls for crisp white bed sheets for this prestigious ceremony. More to follow.
FEB 16, 2023  •  Thought "home rule" was discouraged now. Thought santuaries were discouraged now. The gov tried to make it appear that he was not the one who wanted guns banned from his election celebration. Notice that he never mingles with the sheep, now he doen't even trust the Judas goats. Poor thing is having to purchase a whole new bulletproof wardrobe. No, he is not getting fatter or becomming more of a stuffed shirt. Soon it will be fashionable for politicians to add clear bulletproff helmets with attached hot air supplies and megaphones tucked under the bulletproof garments — such hipocracy.
Jack F
FEB 16, 2023  •  Instead of wasting time on making Manatee County a sanctuary county. How about fixing the traffic problem in downtown Bradenton.
FEB 16, 2023  •  Meanwhile Parrish Community Highschool students couldn’t complete a week of uninterrupted classes because of violence- Students are begging for peace and truth amongst the absolute chaos - Hundreds of students were panicked and terrified- feared for their lives. Way to hear the voices of your district commissioners! 👏
FEB 15, 2023  •  Gerrymandering and developer money got us here. Wake up, voters.
FEB 15, 2023  •  Agree with voting these people out, but who will run against them? We had a good one a few years ago, but the developers’ cash and dirt slinging did him in. Who of you will be willing to help with cash support and feet on the ground to get them elected? It’s going to take more than complaing to make a change.
FEB 15, 2023  •  Whatever has happened to the Englis language? The coarse, gutter writing does not enhance your subject or your image. Shame on you.
FEB 15, 2023  •  God governs what God Creates. Man governs what man makes. God did not create guns and therefore does not grant rights over them. Man made guns and grants the rights over them. Let's not confuse man for God.
FEB 15, 2023  •  It's a bit odd and disappointing that Commissioner Ballard, a lawyer, doesn't appear to be familiar with the U.S. Constitution's Supremacy Clause and is encouraging violating it.
FEB 15, 2023  •  Mr. Bearden has no class. If he does have any, it is all LOW. What a disrespectful way to speak of our president and another politician because he disagrees with him.
Richard J Correnti
FEB 15, 2023  •  Add my voice to the craziness of "open carry" and "gun sanctuary!" Misinterpretation of the 2nd Amendment runs rampant within my Republican party. Guess it's a sign of a lack of intelligence. And it's wonderful for our Commissioners to invite more gun manufacturing and sales in Manatee County. They can use the income, small as it will be, to pay off the administrative "hero" they hired,...and now fired. Or they can continue to "fiddle while Rome (Manatee) burns!"
FEB 15, 2023  •  Work on securing our schools first.
Tom B.
FEB 15, 2023  •  To answer one question posed in the comments, I am from Texas. Owned guns my entire life. People often use words like "God given right" to bolster their views, even when they are clearly and demonstrably wrong. To another commentator, I will never agree that Texas is, to quote you, a "shithole". Maybe it would help if I tossed in some blasphemy, hate, outrage and obscenities - that always changes everyone's minds, right?
Marty Hayden
FEB 15, 2023  •  Lots of intelligent comments about a pathetic county commission
FEB 15, 2023  •  I don't know how these people get elected but I know I will pay way more attention to them during the next election
Ken Rickard
FEB 15, 2023  •  So can i bring firearms to County Commission meetings?
FEB 15, 2023  •  SandyK, SteveM, CountyS,Disapointed,JamesT,Jim,Randy,Miles,TomB, ManateeM, CatL,DaleC,JanM,Chuck, Billy- can each of you tell the readers where you are originally from please ? Thanks
Sandy Keenan
FEB 15, 2023  •  These local commissioners are a disgrace to this county. These types of positions should focus on the local issues such as infrastructure, development, health and safety, quality of our schools, and all things that should be important to ALL their constituents. Instead, they have taken over with their far-right political agendas as the most important with no regard for the rest of us. We are seeing it in the school and college boards and now with the attack on sensible gun control. If those who love guns could only love their fellow citizens as much as they do guns, they wouldn't be so driven by this type of action and opposition to any laws that may protect us all. Keep your handguns to protect your home if you feel the need for them. Keep your sport hunting rifles. But these things have no place in the hands of those that are mentally unstable or possess other traits that laws are proposed to restrict them. No civilian should have an AR that is intended for military use to quickly kill as many as possible in a single action. Do they not care about our police who must face these types of guns every day? Do they not care that our children are being murdered in our schools? Stop hiding behind the 200 year old 2nd amendment language that was not intended for the world today. Listen to the majority of US citicens that support sensible gun control and removal of AR's !
Bruce Tapp
FEB 15, 2023  •  About time this county was made a Second Admendment sanctuary county. Most mass shootings are a gun free zone.
Steve Keenan
FEB 15, 2023  •  Jason Bearden, Amanda Ballard, Mike Rahn, James Satcher, Vanessa Baugh and Kevin Ostenbridge are part of the MAGA Red Tide spreading in the county. Each of them are well funded, have large egos, and no intent to represent what is good for the citizens of this county. This is the political environment we are in today.
FEB 15, 2023  •  BREAKING NEWS - Lee Washington to lead to dedication of the new confederate monument. Joined by the KKK, Birch Brothers and White Nationalist. Sponsored by Ace Hardware, supplying ropes for centuries for those organizations. NRA responds to County decision by congratulations Baugh and Bearden for being their favorite low IQ inbreds to ever seek public office. Previous reports revealed that Baugh comes from a family line of first cousins and buckets of crap. Kruse a staunch supporter of the Colt 45, that is Colt 45 Beer, thought he was voting on his next drink. Sorry George. However, they are casting a new shark in Jaws 8, your fake teeth makes you perfect for the part. Sorry to hear about Jess and her new stripping career. Even Satcher cannot convert her. Apparently, she is looking for a real man, sober one. Sad to say, Ballard did join Jess Kruse. She made one dollar for the entire shift. Guess men don’t like the homely, anorexic, bird nosed geeks with the dorkiest glasses ever known to woman. As for the resolution, pleased to report that Bill Clague did accept a big fat envelope - wink wink, from the developers to make this wonderful resolution possible. You got to love a crooked lawyer. Just not an ugly one like him. More to follow.
FEB 15, 2023  •  "God-given right," to carry a gun is bunch of malarky. Commissioners need to do the jobs that are needed for the county and stop using their position as their bully pulpit.
FEB 15, 2023  •  I have no issue with law abiding adult citizens buying, owning or carrying a weapon should they choose to do so. What I do have an issue with is an elected official, representing the 450K+ citizens of this county, using language during an official proceeding that is more often heard on an elementary school playground than from a community leader. It's bad enough that three of the seven commissioners are currently or have recently been involved in legally shady stuff (and so far have gotten off far too lightly); the last thing we need is for another one to be speaking like a nine year old from the dais. What's next? Nanner-nanner-boo-boo? Good grief, grow up. Instead of taking up time talking about things way above your pay grade, how about you concentrate on addressing local issues and projects. You know, the stuff you were actually elected to do?
FEB 15, 2023  •  I think Jason forgot about his "Christian Values" and is more concerned about making a name for himself as a Junior commissioner. Let's try and spend our money on issues that, locally, we can actually resolve.
James F Tierney
FEB 15, 2023  •  While I too agree that we don’t need to become a “sanctuary gun county,” it never ceases to amaze me the drivel that our commissioners involve themselves in. While we need jobs, development oversight and budgetary oversight the Manatee Commission involves themselves in many of the inconsequential issues such as our Governor. I note in todays other story we have a state legislator seeking to raise interest rates? Where do these people come from?
FEB 15, 2023  •  I’m looking forward to bringing my Ar-15 and SigSauer to a meeting. Let’s see how they feel when I start chanting threats when they’re voting.
Nancy Jane
FEB 15, 2023  •  Go Jason !! SO glad I voted for this guy ! He believes in the constitutionalism and our GOD given right to life! Liberals don't like it, go back to the shitholes you came from
FEB 15, 2023  •  Sorry, one thing to add to my earlier comment. The headline mis-leads. It says "to become." No, it hasn't happened yet. Maybe the Commission will come to its senses -- and pigs will fly.
FEB 15, 2023  •  "Who votes for these people?" It's the ignoramuses who robotically check the R box.
FEB 15, 2023  •  I want to support the comments of the majority of those listed here. And reiterate to the Commissioners, you were elected to do the positive work here in our County and not to insight hatred and division among our residents. Take a good look at the numbers of the election you won. You are clearly not supported by all voters so don't lead thinking that we will all agreed with every one of your personal ideals. I like broccoli but if I was a commissioner, I wouldn't make it our county vegetable. Tallahassee and Washington DC aren't watching you; we are.
FEB 15, 2023  •  This gun sanctuary “thing” will create jobs? Really? That’s part of these MAGAs (as in “maggots”) thinking? Who elected these loonies? This just makes this county more apt to be the site of a mass shooting. These MAGAs have no conscience.
Tom B.
FEB 15, 2023  •  I don’t think Mr. Bearden is reading the same Bible I have been reading all of my life. He is clearly not up on our current form of government either. Congress makes the laws, including the only piece of gun legislation to have come down since the Biden presidency. The Supreme Court has also not issued an anti gun decision in decades. Chase windmills much James? How about fixing some potholes or create development controls that mean a higher quality of life for local citizens?
Alene G.
FEB 15, 2023  •  Finally, the Commissioners have done something very good in making our county a gun sanctuary county. Seriously, bravo! And those wimps who do NOT want to be responsible in arming their home and protecting themselves and their loved ones can move somewhere else. I believe in our police and sheriff's department but they cannot be everywhere. If someone breaks into my home and threatens me or my family, I will be prepared to defend! What are all you others going to do ?
Manatee Man
FEB 15, 2023  •  Bearden seems to forget that County Commissioner is a real job with real responsibilities and not just a platform for wherever he imagines his political career to be heading. The President of the United States does not know Manatee County exists - let alone the angry ramblings of its most recently elected commissioner.
Cat L
FEB 15, 2023  •  I can see the "Florida-man" headlines, now... the governor is already moving the state towards constitutional carry, what completely empty motion do they think they are making? Posturing in the standard, incredibly decisive format of an increasingly one dimensional board. The political equivalent to aggressively puffing up to a mirror...
Dale Contino
FEB 15, 2023  •  Ditto to all the comments above. I have become very tired of the notion that decreasing crime means we need more guns. I for one have seen what guns can do to people, having been in a war. Let's vote out these people that can convince the "common" man that more guns is the answer. It is a sad time in America that we are to believe that guns will make us safer. The second amendment did not include machine guns, and we outlawed them. The result is no more automatic weapons around, not even by the crooks. Let's wise up people and tell these gun promoting folks just how wrong they are and why. Thanks you.
Jon M
FEB 15, 2023  •  Bearden another Pathetic MAGA LOSER!! Hope is gone, now let’s get rid of the other Bought and Paid for CLOWNS!!
FEB 15, 2023  •  More craziness from the gun nuts, a drunk, a thief and corrupt commissioners, all bought and paid for by developers. How do we get rid of these people!?
Billy Owens
FEB 15, 2023  •  Who votes for these miscreants? Great idea putz, the day after another mass shooting where young lives were lost - yet again!!!! let's make this proposal - Bearden, et all, you are all morons!