LETTER from RICK BROCKWAY
To the Editor:
In last week’s edition of this newspaper, Larry Bennett stated his opinion of me and the Second Amendment sanctuary movement here in Otsego County. Let’s face it: Mr. Bennett is not native to the area and does not understand the people of rural, Upstate New York. In my opinion, he also has limited knowledge of the law, especially the Constitution of the United States.
Mr. Bennett referred to me as “a Republican grandstander and fearmonger with zero understanding of the law.” I’m surprised he didn’t call me a gun-toting deplorable as well.
Larry, the intent of your statement was only partially correct. I am a very proud Conservative Republican. I’m not a grandstander, but I will definitely stand up for what I think is right. I wouldn’t say that I’m a fearmonger either, but I do worry for my children and grandchildren, as I see the dramatic shift to the extreme left in this country today.
The Declaration of Independence stated that we have “certain unalienable rights – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The Constitution guarantees these rights. But when I see every Democratic candidate running for president in the upcoming election outright saying that once elected they will take our guns away, I’m concerned.
Adolf Hitler said, “To conquer a nation, you first must disarm its people.”
Larry, I know a little bit about the law. I have a bachelor’s degree in English and American History. I know the county can’t pass a law overriding a state law, and the state cannot pass laws that supersede a federal law, but we can make a statement.
If you read the Constitution and particularly the Second Amendment, you should be able to understand that it gives the people “the right to keep and bear arms,” and “that right shall not be infringed.”
The U.S. Supreme Court in Heller vs. District of Columbia in 2008 ruled, “The Second Amendment guarantees an individual’s right to possess firearms independent of service in a state militia and to use firearms for traditional lawful purposes including self-defense within the home.”
Now let me explain this so even you can understand it. Governor Cuomo, along with the Downstate Democrats, passed the Safe Act in the middle of the night, substantially limiting our gun rights. The Red Flag Law was also added to his anti-gun repertoire. This year, the governor is proposing several new anti-gun laws including:
- Limiting the purchase to just 20 rounds of ammunition a month after passing a federal background check for that purchase.
- Closing all gun ranges.
- Requiring every gun owner to buy a million-dollar liability policy in case someone is shot with one of our guns.
- Restricting the type and number of the guns we can purchase.
ׇ• Passage of a state Senate bill (S7065) that would require a purchaser of any firearm, rifle or shotgun to submit to a mental health evaluation.
Now I might be a dumb country boy, but that sure sounds like infringement to me.
We love our guns and don’t plan on giving them up. We grew up hunting, target shooting and just plinking at tin cans in the back yard. We were taught gun safety and how to shoot and hunt by our fathers and grandfathers.
It was a way of life and still is. When I went to high school, we hung our shotguns on racks in the back windows of our trucks and drove to school each day. The first day of deer season was like a national holiday. School was closed. During those times there were no incidents or mass shootings. Hell, we even had a rifle team in our school.
All persons holding public office have to raise their hand and swear on the Bible or the Constitution to uphold the Constitution of the United States. It doesn’t mean just the parts you like. It means all of it, including the Second Amendment.
Obviously Mr. Bennett, you didn’t follow the news very closely last week. Ninety-one out of 96 counties in Virginia have declared themselves sanctuary counties for the Second Amendment. On Martin Luther King Day well over 20,000 gun carrying, heavily armed, law-abiding citizens showed up to protest Governor Northam’s new gun laws and not a single shot was fired.
Much to the dislike of our liberal media, it was a peaceful demonstration unlike the ones at colleges and universities when the students dislike hearing a Conservative speaker. In fact, those attending the Virginia protest even picked up all the garbage and protest signs before they left. It’s important to note that the extreme left-wing governor of Virginia threatens to send in the National Guard to confiscate guns if the citizens don’t surrender them.
Good luck with that! Even our own Senator Gillibrand has suggested similar gun confiscation, charging any gun owner with a felony and imprisonment if they don’t comply.
If cities, counties and states can declare themselves sanctuaries for illegal immigrants, protecting them from arrest and deportation, why can’t legal, law-abiding citizens declare their counties 2A sanctuary zones? We should be protected from being arrested and criminally charged for the rights that our forefathers fought so hard for with their sweat and blood and are afforded to us by the Constitution of the Unites States.
Making Otsego County a Second Amendment sanctuary means that local law enforcement won’t use its resources to prosecute the proposed “unconstitutional” anti-gun laws. Whether such a resolution has any teeth will depend on our local officials, but these measures are a reflection of the people’s sentiment on gun control. We don’t want Otsego County or New York State to be a gun-free zone.
Presently we have over 2,400 members in the Otsego 2A Sanctuary Movement, and it’s growing every day. We have collected thousands of signatures on our petitions. Mark my word – this is just the beginning. In fact, the New York Times last Tuesday had a headline that read, “The Second Amendment Sanctuary Movement Isn’t Going Away.”
It should be noted that some people who disagree with this movement went on social media and around Cooperstown and other communities in Otsego County, threatening to boycott those businesses that have 2A Sanctuary petitions on their counters. These actions are not acceptable.
We are not alone. The Second Amendment movement started a year ago in Western New York. Wyoming County became the first sanctuary county in January 2019. Today there are groups forming in Delaware, Chenango, Ulster, Schoharie, Oneida, Madison, Hamilton and Herkimer Counties, and I’m sure there are many more that I don’t know about.
Australia passed a law forcing all their citizens to give up their guns. Their crime rate went up 400 percent in less than a year, because criminals didn’t obey the law. Cuomo already released most recently arrested individuals that were held on bail and wants to close a number of the prisons, just turning dangerous, convicted criminals out on the streets. Tell me Mr. Bennett, what are you going to do when one of them crashes through your door at three o’clock in the morning? Call 911? The police might make it to East Merideth in about an hour – maybe not. Do you feel safe with that reality?
Thomas Jefferson was adamant about including the 2nd Amendment in the Bill of Rights. He wrote, “The beauty of the 2nd Amendment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it away.” He also said, “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is at the last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”
It is estimated by the FBI that there are more than 420 million guns in the United States, yet the largest number of gun crimes is in cities with the toughest gun laws and are governed by Democrats. There were over 500 gun-related killings in Chicago last year. Hundreds of others were wounded. Baltimore is just as bad, and I bet none of those weapons were legally obtained through background checks. Gosh, maybe politicians should try confiscating guns in our inner cities from gang members and criminals before they attempt it with law-abiding citizens.
I asked a good friend of mine one day, “Why do you always carry a gun?” He simply replied, “I don’t plan on being a victim!”
My wife commented, “What person in America would be OK with taking away any of our rights? This is not a partisan thing. Republicans are not the only ones who hunt and own guns. We have to protect the Constitution.”
Believe it or not Larry: If we lose the Second Amendment, the rest will soon follow.
Rick Brockway represents Laurens and Otego on the county Board of Representatives.