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Missouri County Wouldn't Fly Flags Half-Staff For Orlando

Cole County, Missouri, refused to lower its flags to half-staff on June 13 in accordance with President Obama's proclamation, which was issued on June 12 in recognition of the mass shooting victims in Orlando, Florida.

Cole County's Presiding Commissioner, Sam Bushman, believed the flags should be lowered, but was outvoted by Western District Commissioner Kris Scheperle and Eastern District Commissioner Jeff Hoelscher, notes the News Tribune.

"We still have control over how the flags are displayed," Hoelscher stated. "Lowering it too much takes away from the honor. I feel for these victims and for their families, but I don't feel this was a time for the flag to be lowered."

Scheperle added: "I want to honor those who have served our country, but we can't lower it for every event like this that occurs. I do feel for those who were gunned down, but I don't think it warrants lowering the flag."

Bushman countered: "I know the ordinance was passed, but we are still a government entity, whether that be federal, state or county — and I thought we should be unified. I agree we don't need to lower the flag for everything, but something like this, I think it's appropriate."

The flags are supposed to be lowered at federal, state and local facilities until sunset on June 16, under Obama's proclamation.

According to Cornell Law School, the federal flag rules state:

By order of the President, the flag shall be flown at half-staff upon the death of principal figures of the United States Government and the Governor of a State, territory, or possession, as a mark of respect to their memory.

In the event of the death of other officials or foreign dignitaries, the flag is to be displayed at half-staff according to Presidential instructions or orders, or in accordance with recognized customs or practices not inconsistent with law.

On June 14, Scheperle changed his vote to lower the flags, reports the News Tribune.

"In spite of the fact that my vote was in accordance with Cole County's flag ordinance and federal law, I reconsider my original vote due to the negative attention this has brought Cole County," Scheperle stated. "The bottom line is my concerns for Cole County citizens."

It's not clear what specific "concerns" Scheperle was referring to as far as local citizens.

Sources: News Tribune (2), Cornell Law School / Photo credit: MarkBuckawicki/Wikimedia

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