Reprinted From Hometown
Oneonta & Freeman’s Journal
New County Rep Brockway
Finds Proposal Going Viral
By JAMES CUMMINGS • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – A Facebook Group aimed at making Otsego County a “Sanctuary for the Second Amendment” is picking up momentum.
On Dec. 20, an active hunter and gun owner, Kaleb White of Oneonta, created the “2A Otsego County Sanctuary Group” on the popular social media platform.
In just over a week, more than 800 people joined the group, including county Rep. Rick Brockway, R-Laurens.
White is circulating several petitions – at Losie’s Gun Shop and Sportman Adventures, and elsewhere.
And on Feb. 5, with Brockway’s support, he plans to ask the county Board of Representatives to designate Otsego a “sanctuary county.”
Meanwhile, Brockway, who will be sworn in on Jan. 2, is seeking to line up other board members behind the idea. So far, only one other Upstate county – Wyoming, south of Batavia – is considering a “sanctuary” policy.
White took action after learning all but six counties in Virginia have or plan to declare themselves “sanctuaries,” exempt from gun-control laws.
The “sanctuary” movement there erupted after Gov. Ralph Northam, with the support of a newly elected Democratic General Assembly, vowed to toughen gun laws.
“In just a matter of days, almost the entire state became a Second Amendment sanctuary,” White said.
The drive picks up on “sanctuary cities” movement, where 560 cities, counties and states nationally have declared they will not cooperate with the federal government in enforcing immigration laws.
Where White and others say Virginia may decide to seize legally owned guns, members of the new Virginia majority have been talking about “commonsense gun legislation.”
To the south of Oneonta, a “Delaware County 2A Sanctuary” Facebook page was created Dec. 20, and White heard about it from relatives there.
He spoke with T.J. Conant, who launched the Delaware page. “They have gained 1,939 members since December 20,” he was told. “It’s been absolutely taking off there.”
He said, “Nobody in Otsego County was doing it, so I said I would be willing to get it off the ground.”
With Conant’s help, the Oneontan launched the Otsego County page, two days before Christmas.
Tuesday, Dec. 31, membership rose from 783 in the morning to 826 in the afternoon.
“I’m amazed at the amount of support,” said White.
“I would like to go to the county board with 6,000 signatures minimum,” he continued. “That’s 1 percent of the county population. The more signatures we get, the easier it will be to bring it in front of the county board and to say that this is what the people want.”
Sportman Adventures’ owner William Decker Jr. thinks “it’s a really good idea to keep (the) political agenda in check. This is something that goes back hundreds of years to our Constitutional rights, so we need to preserve it,” he said.
“We don’t have a lot of signatures yet, but we’ve talked to a lot of people and they’re excited about it,” he said. “There is strength in numbers. If other people make their voice heard, it will keep these ridiculous laws in check.”
For his part, Brockway is contacting “fish and game, and rod and gun clubs. We are going to get petitions out to as many people as possible to get signatures. If you have several thousand signatures you will get other people on the board to listen. It will take a group effort.”
Can he get his county board colleagues to pass the resolution? “I think it will depend on the number of petitions we have and how we present it. I know that a couple of representatives became part of the group. It’s a start,” he said.
Kaleb White sees the responses to date as coming from frustration that began with passage of the state’s Safe Act in January 2013 after the Sandy Hook school massacre in Connecticut.
“It’s frustrating trying to get a handgun or any sort of rifle other than a bolt action in New York. We’re not looking for no gun control and no gun laws, we want it to be more streamlined. We don’t want to jump through hundreds of hoops and spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on permits or training just to protect ourselves.”