Chairman Bliss Refers Issue
To Public Safety Committee
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – The Otsego 2AS movement arrived this morning in the county Board of Representatives’ chambers.
County Rep. Rick Brockway, R-West Laurens, presented petitions on 2AS’ behalf with 3,295 signatures calling on the county board to declare Otsego County a gun-law sanctuary, where the state’s SAFE Act, consider one of the toughest such laws in the country, would not be enforced.
“To be sure, fighting in support of freedom is never easy,” said Brockway, reading a statement provided by 2AS organizers. “Yet fighting for freedom has always been the preferred side of history. Which side you are on will soon be revealed.”
Board Chair Dave Bliss, R-Cooperstown/Town of Middlefield, accepted the petitions and referred them to the Public Safety & Legal Affairs Committee for review.
“I support the Second Amendment and all our Bill of Rights amendments,” said county Rep. Dan Wilber, R-Burlington. He said his committee will review the 2AS request; if it chose, PSLA could send a resolution to the full board endorsing or rejecting the concept.
The committee includes Michelle Farwell, D-Morris, Peter Oberacker, R-Schenevus, Ed Frazier, R-Unadilla, and Andrew Stammel, D-Oneonta.
“I’ve received more email and postcards and phone calls about this than anything else since I’ve been on the board, from people opposing us passing a sanctuary resolution,” Farwell said. “For me, the real unknown about this whole thing is: Is it a symbolic act, or is it something that is meant to be serious?”
She added, “I represent a rural district where we have guns and we use them.”
She noted the county board is already on record opposing the SAFE Act, and wondered if “county government is the place where we should be deciding gun-rights issues.”
The gun-sanctuary movement goes back to 2013, when the Carroll County, Maryland, Board of Commissioners is credited with being the first body to pass a resolution using the word “sanctuary.” The movement gained traction last year in Virginia, when Democrats took control of the state Legislature and promised tougher gun control laws.
In New York State, two counties – Jefferson and Wyoming – have passed resolutions supporting the gun-sanctuary concept. But none, it seems, has actually declared one so far.
In an interview, Brockway declined to predict what will happen next. “Let’s just say there are several board members who are in favor of it,” he said, and he’s planning to attend the PSLA meeting at noon Thursday, Oct. 15.
“The people that I deal with all the time are very much in favor of it,” said Brockway, a well-known local sportsman who writes an outdoors column. “I’ve gotten a few emails from people who say I shouldn’t be pushing this issue.”
The 2AS statement he read today said the number of signatures would have been greater, but was hindered because some supporters were afraid to sign the petition. Also, it said, there was petition theft.
In one case in Worcester, Brockway said, a woman entered a store and said she wanted to sign the petition. The store owner brought it out. She then asked him about a product on the shelf behind him. When he turned back around, she was out the door, taking the petition with her.
There were also a couple of cases of petition theft in Cooperstown, Brockway said.