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Day of Decision Nears on Gun-Sanctuary Vote

Legal Opinion Expected; Resolution In Hand

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Dan Wilber
Ellen Coccoma

Pending a legal opinion on proposed gun-sanctuary status for Otsego County, members of the county board’s Public Safety & Legal Affairs Committee are expected to consider a resolution on the matter when it meets at noon Thursday, Dec. 10.

“I haven’t seen that opinion,” county Rep. Andrew Stammel, D-Oneonta, a PSLA member and an attorney, said Monday, Dec. 7. “The goal was to have us review it prior to our meeting.”

County Rep. Rick Brockway, R-West Laurens, who has championed the efforts of the local 2AS movement – the acronym stands for “Second Amendment Sanctuary” – said “as far as I know,” the resolution is up for discussion. While not a PSLA member, he plans to participate in the Zoom meeting.

The PSLA chairman, Dan Wilber, R-Burlington, and County Attorney Ellen Coccoma did not return calls.

The resolution declares, in part, “The Board of Representatives hereby expresses its intent to uphold
the Second Amendment rights of the citizens of Otsego County.”

It adds, “The board declares its intent to oppose unconstitutional restriction on the right to keep and bear arms through such legal means as may be expedient, including, without limitation, court action.”

Whatever way the decision goes, the Republicans can make it; the new county rep, Jennifer Mickle, R-Maryland, appointed to succeed state Sen.-elect Peter Oberacker, has been appointed to fill his committee slots, which included the PSLA, as well as Public Works and Intergovernmental Affairs.

The two Democrats, Stammel and Michele Farwell of Morris, voiced opposition to the 2As idea.

“I’m totally against a sanctuary county,” said Stammel. “I think it’s contrary to the rule of law. A lot of people cite the Constitution, but what it really does is undermine the Constitution, (which) lays out laws and how to make laws and enforce laws. This is not the way to do it.”

Farwell isn’t against the idea of discussing change. “If it were a resolution that says rural people need a seat at the table when gun regulation is discussed, then I would be for that resolution.”

But she’s not sure state gun regulations will be adjusted. “Albany already knows what rural New York thinks about the SAFE Act, and they have the polling on their side,” she said.

“If it just reiterates a resolution that already passed in 2013” – when the state Legislature adopted the SAFE Act, considered the most stringent of its kind in the nation, “I don’t see the point. If we start getting to the point where we’re saying Otsego County is going to pick and choose which laws it follows, or enforcing or not, I think that’s a dangerous path.”

Farwell said she’s reached out to two 2AS advocates, including Garrett deBlieck of Unadilla. “I think the folks who signed the petition, at least the leadership, are determined that the county be declared a sanctuary. I think a half-measure isn’t going to be adequate to satisfy them.”

For his part, deBlieck said he’s discussed the sanctuary idea with Wilber, and was told “there are certain areas where there may be some changes.”

“Yes or no, we’re not going to be going anywhere,” he said. “If the board decides no, we aren’t going to fold up our cards and walk away. What good would that do?”

Currently, the 2AS group is seeking non-project status, a vehicle that would allow the campaign to continue into the future.

“We want to be upstanding citizens, but we’re being more and more marginalized,” he said. “And enough is enough. It’s to a point where numbers of people did not want to sign because they didn’t want to put down the names of their towns, much less their names.”

For his part, deBlieck said he’s discussed the sanctuary idea with Wilber, and was told “there are certain areas where there may be some changes.”


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