MUSKEGON, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” These words come from the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and they have been widely argued over the years as to whether they mean that individuals can keep and bear arms or not. So far, for the most part, that answer has been yes. But those rights have been eroded over the years by both federal and state governments by red-flag gun laws and other restrictive legislation.
Michigan jumped on board the gun control bandwagon once they had Democratic control in the House, Senate and governor’s mansion and passed a series of gun legislation in May of this year including red-flag gun laws.
Now, one Michigan township is pushing back. That township is Holton which is located in Muskegon County. The township has about 2,000 residents and is about a half-an-hour drive north east of the city of Muskegon on the western side of mid-Michigan. The township provides a range of services including a fire department, public works, and parks. Now, they have added a militia and Second Amendment Sanctuary to their list.
On Tuesday evening, the Holton Township Board of trustees voted 4-0 (Treasurer William Halbower was absent from the vote) to adopt a resolution that declares the township a Second Amendment Sanctuary. They also adopted an addendum that establishes a township militia. The board had tried and failed to become a Second Amendment Sanctuary a little over a year ago. There were about 15 to 20 people in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting but because the agenda wasn’t publicized on social media, there were no public comments about the resolutions either for or against.
Taking aim at the state’s recent red-flag gun laws that were passed by Democrats in May restricting gun and ammunition possession, Holton’s new Second Amendment Sanctuary resolution declares the Constitution to be the supreme law of the nation and says “the Holton Township Board are concerned about the passage of any bill containing language which could be interpreted as infringing the rights of the citizens of Holton Township to keep and bear arms” and expresses “opposition to any law that would unconstitutionally restrict the rights of the citizens of Holton Township to keep and bear arms.”
Declaring the township a “Second Amendment Sanctuary” the resolution states that “The Holton Township Board declares and confirms to express its intent to stand as a Sanctuary Township for Second Amendment rights, and to oppose, within the limits of the Constitution of the United States and the Commonwealth of Michigan, any efforts to unconstitutionally restrict such rights.”
Holton Twp. Clerk, Malinda Pego, who is also the Co-Chair of the Michigan GOP provided the following statement to Michigan News Source about Tuesday’s vote, “Our founders framed a limited government. Our government’s authority is to be contained and its purpose is securing Liberty and protecting our individual God given unalienable rights. Those rights are only secured by the people’s Second Amendment.”
The resolution also includes an addendum called the “Holton Township Militia Public Security Act” that forms a militia. In it, the addendum states that they are adopting policies for the security and rights of Holton Township residents. It says, “All legal residents with primary residency within the township of Holton have the opportunity to be a member of the Holton Township Militia by stating on open media or to friends or family by letter stating their desire to be a member of the Holton Township Militia.”
It’s an opt-in militia just by having a Holton Twp. resident stating that they want to participate – but it’s not an active one with paramilitary activities. Unlike organized, active and private militias in Michigan and around the country, the Holton Twp militia is dormant until called upon.
Holton Twp. Supervisor Supervisor Alan Jager told Michigan News Source that there are no monthly meetings or gatherings for the militia and if a resident doesn’t want to be in it, they don’t have to be. Jager says, “Anybody that chooses to be in militia, all you have to do is say, ‘I’m in.’ If you don’t want to be in, all you have to do is just never say anything you’re not in.”
Jager described it as a militia that will be called as needed and pointed to the recent events in Israel where people were caught off-guard and most didn’t have a means to protect themselves when Hamas attacked. He said, “They took their guns away. And then look what happened. 1400 people died. And now they’re telling people in that same area ‘buy guns to protect yourself, because you’re not safe.’” Reports in Israel show that Jager is right and the country is relaxing their gun laws to arm civilian security teams.
Jager pointed to having a militia as a way to safeguard gun ownership from the prying hands of the government and said, “If we ever had a problem like what Israel got into or anything else, we could call you up.”
Those wanting to be part of the Holton Twp. militia have to be 18-years-old and pass a Federal firearms background check. The addendum also list items that are protected from any federal, executive, county or state regulations including all federally legal handguns, pistols, ammunition, body armor and accessories that have been legal since March 27, 2021. It also states that the township will not “acknowledge any new laws that are associated with red flag laws or any other infringement of the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution” or any new regulation that prohibits open carry or concealed carry.”
Jager told Michigan News Source that the township’s Second Amendment Sanctuary resolution was similar to what Muskegon County had come up with but didn’t pass. As for forming the militia, he said it was an idea that came to him when he was sitting his house with his son watching Michigan pass their red-flag gun laws against the people which they felt was “very unconstitutional.” He said, “So we decided that we would write to counteract it, because all places are allowed to have a militia.”
When asked if there were other areas in Michigan that have formed a militia through local government, he couldn’t think of any but pointed to states in the south that he believed have done something similar. Jager said, “If a state can do it, why can’t a township do it?”
Jager is worried about the slippery slope of gun laws coming out of the state government and has concerns that even having a misdemeanor could someday be reason enough to take away a person’s weapons. He said, “Every single one of us have a misdemeanor because you can have a traffic ticket.” He said if that happened, it would eliminate almost everybody in the state from having a gun.
Jager told Michigan News Source that gun rights, as well as everything else, should be done at a local level. He said, “I think that when it comes to our schools, when it comes to everything now…it’s gotta be handled local. We don’t need a big Detroit or Lansing telling our schools to put masks on kids. Let our local school board handle our local school. And I think the same is true with these guns. We can’t trust Lansing to do the right thing anymore…and I can’t trust the federal government either. So I think they’re gonna have to bring this stuff back to the local level and let the local levels, let them decide…since you people can’t do it right, or you just take our rights away, let us do it right.”