News of Otsego County

Rack Brockway

Petitions Vie Over Firearms

Petitions Vie Over Firearms

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to


Opponents of turning Otsego County into a “Second Amendment Sanctuary” are faster on the draw than proponents, at least when it comes to petitions.

On their behalf, Mary Anne Whelan, the retired Bassett physician, was planning to turn in petitions with “many hundred” signatures to the county Board of Representatives when it met Wednesday, March 4.

“We … respectfully ask the county Board of Representatives to declare support of the current state regulations concerning gun control,” it reads. “…Sanctuaries are for people, not for guns.”

Whelan said she alone had 200 signatures on petitions she circulated, and she was hoping for several hundred more from others circulating petitions.”

She is acting now because she anticipated county Rep. Rick Brockway, R-Laurens, who has championed the “Second Amendment Sanctuary” idea, would be presenting petitions with perhaps thousands of signatures at this week’s meeting.

However, he said he is now waiting until the April 1 meeting.

Brockway said the Facebook-based “2A Otsego County Sanctuary Group” is planning a meeting of its supporters Sunday, March 22, at the Morris VFW, to compile a master list.

“I’m guessing we’ll have 6,000 signatures, I’m not positive,” he said.

He expects Assemblyman John Salka, R-Brookfield, to be at that meeting, as well as county Rep. Peter Oberacker, R-Schenevus, who is running for state Senate. “We’ve invited county board members as well,” he said.

A freshman representative, he’s learned that if he introduces a resolution to create a “Second Amendment Sanctuary” during a county board meeting, the rules of the board will require a two-thirds vote for approval.

However, if he introduces the measure in a committee, and it is approved and sent on the full board, it will only require a majority vote for approval. He plans to go that route this month, with the idea the resolution will be ready to go to the full board on April 1.

At first, Whelan, who was soliciting signatures Saturday, Feb. 29, at the Cooperstown Farmers’ Market along with Sam Wilcox of Cooperstown, said she didn’t believe the county board had the authority to create a gun sanctuary, where the state SAFE Act wouldn’t be enforced.

Since, however, she has researched some “reasonably written stuff” and now isn’t sure.

“I don’t think it’s likely the board would vote for Brockway’s proposition: It’s so disruptive,” she said. “It doesn’t seem to me that business of the board isn’t to overturn existing laws of the State of New York.”

So far, 17 counties in New York State are seeking sanctuary status, said Brockway, ticking off Montgomery, Hamilton, Ulster and Lewis, as well as neighboring Delaware. “There’s a bunch of them across the state,” he said. “It’s going to be statewide before it’s done.”

Some petitions have been “stolen” from stores that had them available for signators, including three in Cooperstown. At the gas station in Worcester, two full pages were absconded when the clerk wasn’t looking, an estimated 24 signatures per page, Brockway said.

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