LETTER from ANDREW STAMMEL
To the Editor:
Elected officials should make efforts to understand and represent, within the confines of the law, our constituents’ varying perspectives. Thus, Representative Brockway’s “Second Amendment sanctuary” letter in last week’s edition was concerning both in its substance and tone.
His letter rebutted a column a week before submitted by an active local resident. Brockway dismissively wrote that the author “is not native to the area and does not understand the people of rural, Upstate New York.”
Politicians may disagree with a community member’s position on an issue; but negating the personal value of those opinions based on assumptions about where someone was born is inappropriate.
We have a duty to work respectfully for all constituents, whether they’ve lived here for 80 years or eight months.
The opinions of “native” rural Upstaters about the difficult issue of gun safety are not uniformly absolutist.
Upwards of 90 percent of Americans believe some level of gun safety regulation is appropriate. This includes large proportions of people, like myself, who have lived in rural Upstate our whole lives or who have a familiarity with guns.
Among wealthy nations, ours is a significant outlier in the high level of deadly gun violence. Anyone who objectively looks at this fact will realize it is a problem in need of solutions. In government, we don’t solve the tough problems by retreating to rigid ideological corners. Instead we need to bring the best minds together from different perspectives and work collaboratively and creatively to create a better future for the next generations.
Sanctuary movements urge a radical and dangerous drift away from the rule of law. Many of us object to specifics in the SAFE Act or the process by which it was adopted. But like it or not, it is the current law.
Under our system, the way to change the law is to urge our lawmakers to repeal or amend it or to vote in new representatives who will do so. If a law is claimed to be unconstitutional, it may be challenged in the courts, which are tasked with interpreting the meaning of the state and federal Constitutions. Pro-gun special interest groups are generously funded and assist citizens in these lawful efforts at campaigning, lobbying, and litigation.
In Otsego County government, we frequently complain about unfunded or ill-fitting state mandates and often urge the state to improve them. In fact, the county board has been on the record for years with
its concerns about the SAFE Act.
Despite objections, our county and local governments are still obligated to follow our laws. The suggestion by politicians or by the county board as a body that our government not enforce the law is deeply irresponsible and de-stabilizing.
It puts at risk two of the primary pillars of our local economy – higher education and tourism. Our economic vitality depends on the revenue from those “outsiders” and newcomers about whom Representative Brockway speaks so dismissively.
How many fewer families will visit or send their children to our area if they believe they’re venturing into the Wild West where public safety laws will be applied arbitrarily or not at all? This divisive and misguided effort would not lead to a brighter future for the county we love and should be rejected by the county board.
Town of Oneonta