Williamson County Voters Won't See Gun Control Referendum in November

Aug 17, 2018

A potential referendum on gun control in Williamson County won’t end up on the ballot this fall, after Commissioners there failed to bring it to a vote.

The contentious issue brought dozens of people to Friday’s special County Board meeting – with nine out of ten speakers urging the board to put the question to the voters. Many, like Bradley Marks, say it’s a voters’ rights issue, more than a gun control issue.

If that's going to turn people out, is that not what we want in our community? A good voter turnout? ~Bradley Marks

“It’s a hot topic issue on both sides, both parties, both ideologies. If that’s going to turn people out, is that not what we want in our community? A good voter turnout?”

"This isn't something where, I feel like three administrators - no offense gentlemen - that we elected should take away from us. You should give us the right to speak our mind on November 6," Chris Oraha added.

Attorney Alfred Sanders cautioned against the question. He says it could tie Commissioners' hands down the road.
"You're going to be possibly obligated to oppose some bill that might make sense. But what if the answer to this question that people give you is no?"

But Commissioners Ron Ellis, a Republican, and Brent Gentry, a Democrat, refused to second Board Chair Jim Marlo’s motion to put the question on the ballot. Gentry says the issue became too political – and that’s why he opposed it.

“There is no way, folks, that I will allow the residents of this county to be a political pawn to anyone on either side of the aisle.” 

Ellis says he faced intense pressure from his party to approve the question, but he refused – agreeing it was too political.

“I have not done in the ten years I’ve been here, and I don’t have any intention of starting that now. Because of that, I am not in favor of putting it on the ballot. I am in favor of passing a resolution.”

In the end, the question failed to reach approval due to lack of a second. County Board Chair Jim Marlo, who made the motion to approve it, says it's all about hearing the people's voice.

"This was my attempt to find out what that will is. Like I said, it has been turned political. It was never intended for it to be political."

Commissioners did approve a resolution, opposing four specific bills pending in Springfield, which would change age limits and other qualifications for gun ownership.