News of Otsego County

Second Amendment sanctuary

NORTHRUP: Ignore Gun Laws? See You In Court

Ignore Gun Laws?

See You In Court

To County Representatives:

As elected officials, you of all people do not have the luxury of deciding which laws you will uphold and which you will ignore, much less willfully and publicly flaunt as a partisan political stunt.

If you adopt this scofflaw “gun sanctuary” ordinance, you will be sued for failure to uphold New York State laws – laws that you are free to challenge in court, but laws that you cannot selectively ignore or flaunt to the detriment of the rule of law, to the loss the trust that has been placed in you, or to the breach of your oath of office.


Sanctuary Drive Hits Roadblock

Sanctuary Drive Hits Roadblock

D.A. Dismisses Idea; Reps Put Off Action

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

The 2A Sanctuary Movement’s effort to banish all gun laws from Otsego County appears at a standstill, at least for now.

“The county board has no real authority or jurisdiction,” county Rep. Dan Wilber, last week, told the county board’s Public Safety & Legal Affairs Committee, which he chairs. “Enforcement is left to the district attorney and the sheriff’s office.”

Wilber said he’s conferring with District Attorney John Muehl and county Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr. about what comes next.

Meanwhile, he delayed further discussion until the February PSLA meeting, and – picking up on the suggestion of county Rep. Andrew Marietta, D-Cooperstown/Fly Creek – said he will consider a public forum on the matter for 2021.

For his part, Muehl said later, “I think the county should stay out of it. The courts have found it unconstitutional. I can’t enforce a law that’s been found unconstitutional.”

Devlin said the PSLA Committee is “trying to put this off on John and myself. They don’t know what to do.”

Some PSLA members were expecting a legal opinion from County Attorney Ellen Coccoma on a draft resolution when it met Thursday, Dec. 10, but received a verbal report instead.

“The way I read it now,” she said, the proposed resolution “poses to make a declaration of unconstitutionality about particular laws. That is not an authority that the county board has. Under separation of powers, that decision is given to the courts.”

Muehl and Devlin take an oath “to uphold all the laws of the state,” she added, “which does not allow them to spend money that infringes on their oath of office.”

Day of Decision Nears on Gun-Sanctuary Vote: Legal Opinion Expected; Resolution In Hand

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.”

KUZMINSKI: Sanctuaries Recipes For Anarchy

Sanctuaries Recipes

For Anarchy

To the Editor:

In his letter to the editor of Nov. 12-13, county Rep. Rick Brockway, R-West Laurens, points out that the Village of Cooperstown was “made a sanctuary haven for illegal immigrants.” Indeed, the village, in April, 2017, voted unanimously, as reported in this newspaper, “not to participate in the Delegation of Immigration Authority’ under the Immigration & Nationality Act of 1996.”

Invoking the same idea from the opposite end of the political spectrum, Brockway has introduced a Second Amendment sanctuary proposal which would exempt Otsego County from the enforcement of certain New York State gun laws.

Two wrongs don’t make a right. The growing idea that local communities can opt out of recognizing and enforcing legitimate laws they don’t like simply by declaring themselves sanctuaries is reminiscent of the nullification movement in the Southern states before the Civil War. It’s a clear sign of a breakdown of law and government.

It doesn’t have to be that way. The civil rights movement also defied specific laws– those enforcing segregation – but it proceeded entirely legally. Unlike the sanctuary movement, it acknowledged the authority of the law by accepting arrest and going to court in the hope that judicial rulings based on precedent and reason would change the laws – as indeed they did.

The sanctuary movement on both sides represents muddled and dangerous thinking. It rejects the rule of law in favor of one or another partisan and sectarian impulse. It’s a recipe for anarchy which should not be tolerated. By voting down Brockway’s proposal, the Otsego County Board of Representatives has a rare opportunity to display some much needed political courage.

Fly Creek

BASHEAR: Protect Our Gun-Using Traditions

Protect Our Gun-Using Traditions

To the Editor:

To express my support of the Second Amendment, I joined the 2AS group here in Otsego County when it was first organized. For far too long, the New York State government has passed more and more insane gun controls without seeming to care at all that they may be unconstitutional infringements to my
right to keep and bear arms.

I also am sick of the insulting name-calling pro-gun control people use to label us.

There is nothing unreasonable to champion the Second Amendment as written and nor is it unreasonable to call into question certain gun control laws.

I have grown up in a household that enjoyed hunting and target shooting. The same with many of
my friends and neighbors. We are not “gun nuts” and I don’t know of anyone who is.

In fact, I can’t see any of my friends or family even wanting to be around people who don’t respect their firearms. But that doesn’t mean it’s OK for the government to place one obscure restriction after another.

I want to see a future where my kids can enjoy hunting and target shooting as I did growing up. It has been a tradition that I fear might be stripped away.

There is talk every week on passing more infringing gun control laws throughout New York. We cannot stand for this anymore. I’m tired of it and it’s time for freedom to fight back.

Having the freedom of self-defense is not only our right, it is our duty.

Richfield Spring

BROCKWAY: Guns Needed To Protect Families

Guns Needed

To Protect Families

To the Editor:

The 2AS (Second Amendment Sanctuary) group has provided to the Otsego County Board of Representatives a resolution for its approval, along with petitions signed by 3,295 local residents. The resolution should be seen as a commitment of the county board to stand by their oath of office.

When an elected official takes an oath, we, as residents, should want them to uphold that oath. Asking them to vote this resolution is asking them to violate that oath.

That is what The League of Women Voters asked them to do: not to support the Constitution. I am not sure exactly what the League stands for, if not the Constitution of the United States.

The League never opposed sanctuary status for illegal immigrants in the Village of Cooperstown in April 2017, but it will not stand up for legal citizens of Otsego County.

With that said, I have to ask if any League members have even seen this resolution that has been presented to the county board. If they had, they would know it’s more about protecting the rights of county citizens to keep and bear arms, a right given to us in the Second Amendment.

New York has always been listed among the most anti-gun states in the nation. This alone makes the fight even more of an uphill battle. Those of us who believe in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights feel strongly about fighting to keep these from being changed, eliminated or infringed upon by those who find them offensive.

With the uptick of crime in this country, we all need to protect our families from criminal activity. That does not mean only men should protect themselves and their families. As some of you might already be aware, there is a local woman’s gun group forming in the county to teach safe use of firearms, and it is seeking members.

As a woman and gun owner who holds a FFL and has sold many guns, this is a great opportunity for local women to learn about guns and not be afraid of them. I am sure these women would love to see the 2AS resolution pass in the county. I know I would.

Everyone should know, but I will remind you, that a 2AS resolution does not mean there will no longer be federal background checks or criminals will be given guns. It means law-abiding residents’ rights will not be infringed upon when it comes to their legally obtained firearms.

It will not make it more dangerous for law enforcement; federal and state laws will still apply. The only reason it’s more dangerous for police now is because criminals can obtain illegal guns. No state or federal law can protect any of us from criminal activity.

If the governor were to rethink his position on bail reform and allow for criminals to be prosecuted for their crimes and not released right back into our communities, we would all be much safer.

I support the 2AS resolution which the county board will soon be considering.

I would also like to give my support to Peter Oberacker as our state senator for the 51st district. He will stand with us.

We are not the ones you should fear!

West Oneonta

County Reps Take Oath To Uphold State’s Laws


County Reps Take Oath

To Uphold State’s Laws

To the Editor:

Considerable attention is being paid to the anticipated request by county Rep. Rick Brockway, R-West Laurens, that the county board adopt a resolution declaring our county a “gun sanctuary,” by which is meant a declaration that the police need not enforce the state’s SAFE Act.

This is, to begin with, an inappropriate request. As a county representative, Brockway took a signed and sworn oath to support the laws of the State of New York. If he can’t do that he should resign.

Undermining law enforcement by supporting a declaration of “no need to enforce” a law is disrespectful to the state Constitution, to law enforcement and to the citizens law enforcement protects.

The argument that the SAFE Act violates the Constitution is not valid.

It has repeatedly been upheld in the state courts, and for that reason has never reached the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court, in turn, upholds the right of individuals to bear arms and also the right of states to regulate them.

It is not an open-ended invitation for anyone, anywhere, in any state of mind, to possess any kind of
firearm they choose to have and do with it whatever they want. Sadly, responsible gun ownership is not
universal and cannot be left to individual decision-making.

People leave guns where children can play with them, disaffected teenagers can readily get their hands on them and shoot schoolmates, and mentally impaired persons can band together under some catchword messages about liberty and justify their violent impulses.

Here in Cooperstown, there have been two school shootings; and in Richfield, grandparents shot to death by their grandson. Their parents should have known better than to leave guns around. They should not have been able to buy them, on their own, or to get someone else to buy them for them.
Liberty – in the sense of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness – is, in fact, more often violated by firearms than by any other cause.

Twenty-five children a WEEK are killed by firearms. More are injured.

They are a favored instrument of domestic violence and abuse, and of suicide and murder-suicide. What
happened to these lives, liberties and the pursuit of their happiness?

I have had two friends shot to death when they cheerfully answered their door on a Sunday morning.

They were expecting piano movers. Instead, a grudge-bearing psychopath who never should have had a gun killed them. Is it a civil right to be able to answer your door without defensively carrying
a weapon against the chance of such an event? Where were my dead friends’ civil rights?

America is a gun culture. Our history glorifies it. Our children grow up buying into it. As a pediatric neurologist I saw, in one afternoon, three unrelated children – boys 4 years 3 months, 4 years 3 months, and 4 years 6 months of age – because their mothers were afraid of them. One of them said, “Dr. Whelan, he says he’s going to get a gun and shoot me and I’m afraid of him.”

I asked if there were a gun in the house. “Yes, but it’s in our bedroom, and he knows he’s not supposed to go in there.” Oh, fine.

Teaching school in Africa in 1961, the first question asked in my class was from an 8-year-old boy:

“Where do people in America keep their guns?”

Most people who object to the SAFE Act probably haven’t read it. They probably can’t tell you what the First and Third Amendments are either, because, really, they don’t care about the Constitution: they just want their guns.

Look: Nothing in the SAFE Act prohibits hunting, as some like to claim. It puts some background checks for criminality and mental illness in place for sales (there should be more). It bans assault weapons, including semi-automatics, unless “grandfathered” in and registered, and it bans loading more than 10 rounds at a time.

It requires reporting if guns are lost or stolen. If you share a household with someone convicted of a felony or domestic violence, you are supposed to keep guns in a safe place. (Something that should be extended to households with children also).

None of these provisions are unconstitutional. Which of them offends you?

Putting it about that Democratic candidates want to “take your guns away” is known by those who say it to be untrue: it is said anyway, which makes it dishonest.

Claiming, as the NRA does, that the answer to guns is more guns, is just factually incorrect. Insured claims for firearm-related injuries actually go down during NRA conventions – these are multi-day events in which thousands of gun enthusiasts, and their guns, are effectively taken off the streets. So it’s safer out there!

Stop waving the flag around.

It’s not your flag: it’s ours. I grew up with guns. We had a shooting range in our basement. I was a pretty good shot. But I consider it my civil right not to live in place where law enforcement is flouted and reasonable legislation denigrated in the name of the Constitution. The second and third words of the Second Amendment are: WELL REGULATED.


County Reps Take Oath To Protect Constitution

County Reps Take Oath

To Protect Constitution

To the Editor:

It serves as a necessary reminder to some that America is a representative republic based on Constitutional law. This is exampled by the requirement that every elected official must swear an oath to “support” or “protect” the Constitution of the United States before taking the seat that he/she was elected for.

As such, the Otsego County Board of Representatives is by no means an exception. It has even been brought to my attention that some representatives chose to substitute the Bible with the Constitution itself. To these individuals, one would expect an ever-more committed reverence to uphold and support the Constitution to which our American Republic is based.

It should come as no surprise that the Bill of Rights is an intrinsic part of American law. When an oath is violated, it is called perjury.

As I have stated before, our organization, Otsego 2AS, does not stand upon a partisan platform but, rather, a Constitutional one. Either one embraces the Constitution, or one does not. Thus, either the county representatives will embrace their oath, or they will perjure. It is just that simple.

The oath is no trivial matter.

In essence, it is what separates our republic from behaving as an unscrupulous banana republic, where whatever the powerful desire is what is pursued. It is the sworn duty of the elected officeholder to render themselves restrained and accountable to such oath made. In this case, the oath is to support the Constitution. Therefore, transgressing the Constitution clearly violates this oath.

As Chief Justice Marshall stated in Marbury vs. Madison (1803): “A law repugnant to the Constitution is void; and that courts, as well as other departments are bound to that Instrument.”

The 2AS Resolution embraces this ruling as a necessary step to reverse the course of Constitutional infringements. It is with profound satisfaction that Otsego county board does harbor fighters for freedom in standing upon their sworn oath.

In saying this, I cannot see anyone more qualified for state Senate than Peter Oberacker. It is never an understatement to say that doing the right thing is never easy. Likewise, I commend many sitting in our county board who truly desire to uphold their sworn oaths of office.

Yet the 2AS movement would never have been necessary had the New York State government not embarked upon the unconstitutional path of perpetual firearm infringements. It is to this where
fighters for freedom must endeavor to straighten a lost government back to its sworn principles.

I have no doubt that Peter Oberacker will continue this restoration of a current state banana republic back to its Constitutional basis.


DEAN: White Males Killing Us With AK-47s

White Males Killing

Us With AK-47s

To the Editor:

Aside from it possibly being an illegal proposal, I have no interest in, nor do I support in any way, the
Second Amendment Sanctuary proposal before the board.

The 3,295 signatures are 5.5 percent of the Otsego County population.

I am an almost 50-year resident of Otsego County, an Air Force veteran who served in the USAF Strategic Air Command, the USAF Security Service with the CIA in the mountains outside of Afghanistan, and volunteered twice for Vietnam.

I paid my patriotic dues.

I support the Governor and the laws of the State of New York.

If New York State laws need to be adjusted, there are responsible, legal pathways for those changes.
No one is trying to take away legally owned guns from responsible people.

I fully support the management and control of military-style assault weapons to keep them out of the
hands of irresponsible and potentially dangerous people.

It should be noted that anti-gun sentiment has mostly come from the horrendous, multiple, ongoing, mass killings in our country.

It should be noted that the preferred weapon of choice for mass killings is the AR15-style assault rifle.

It should be noted that almost all of the perpetrators of the mass killings in the United States of America are white males.

Bring me a resolution that fixes those problems, and I am all in.


ANDERSON: Sanctuary Idea About Guns, Freedom

Sanctuary Idea About

Guns, Our Freedoms

To the Editor:

In a recent opinion piece by Julie Sorenson of the League of Women Voters, she urged the Otsego County Board of Representatives to vote against making the county a “Second Amendment
Sanctuary” and stated the adoption of such a resolution was problematic because it was intended to subvert New York State gun laws.

She then goes on with the usual rhetoric about gun control.

What Ms. Sorenson fails to realize is the movement is about far more than the Second Amendment; the movement is about the fundamental rights of Americans as guaranteed in the Constitution as laid out in the Bill of Rights.

As an American citizen, I expect to have the God-given rights as specifically spelled out in the Bill of Rights, which is part of the Constitution of the United States. As a citizen I have the God-given right of
self-protection, according to our founding documents.

Arguably the most important amendments in the Bill of Rights are the first and second.

As our government has become more secular, there is a natural tendency to ignore God and elevate man’s authority, which has led many to believe our founding documents are no longer as important or relevant as had been previously thought.

This is a grievous error and has led to a general disregard for our founding documents. The principles set out in the founding documents supersede state laws and thus the problematic issue that Ms. Sorensen refers to in her opinion piece is null and void.

Ms. Sorensen’s contention that the resolution’s passage would violate state law is simply not true. The resolution is a position statement and does not have the force of law.

It is simply a statement by the people of Otsego County that we support the idea of becoming a sanctuary county in which our legal representative will uphold their oath of office to support the constitution of the United States.

Further, the SAFE Act is still very much in litigation and, with a recent ruling in California, further doubt has been cast on its Constitutionality. The court system is slow to make changes and many of those changes have been contrary to Constitutional principles and resolution will not be complete for some time. Overall, Ms. Sorensen’s argument constitutes little more than progressive sophistry and avoids fundamental issues regarding our founding documents, which is the real issue.


Can Sanctuary Energy Be Channeled Into Reform?


Can Sanctuary Energy

Be Channeled Into Reform?

In 2017, you may remember, the Village of Cooperstown dipping its toe in the “sanctuary” pond.

The Village Board passed a resolution telling the federal government it could not depend on the cooperation of Cooperstown police if ICE – U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement – were to launch a local raid.

Happily, ICE was occupied with real hot-spots and the resolution sort of faded away.

Now, another idea is on the table: A “Second Amendment Sanctuary,” presumably where the state’s SAFE Act, toughest in the nation, it’s said, won’t be enforced.

Last week, outdoor columnist and county Rep. Rick Brockway, R-West Laurens, on behalf of the 2AS organization, presented petitions with 3,925 signatures to the county Board of Representatives, asking it to reject any law that is “constitutionally repugnant.”

Appropriately, county Board Chairman Dave Bliss, R-Cooperstown/Town of Middlefield, deftly assigned the measure to a committee – Public Safety & Legal Affairs, chaired by Dan Wilber, R-Burlington – where it will stay for a while.

Curiously, some folks who were enthusiastic about the first “sanctuary” have no enthusiasm for the second.

Which gets to the nub of the whole “sanctuary” concept.

First, there’s a practical point.

In the first case, did anyone – the trustees foremost – want Cooperstown, getaway from the hustle and hubbub of city life, to become a magnet for illegal residents and a center of immigration conflict?

Likewise, does anyone really want to see a gun on every hip?

Second, there’s the rule of law.

If you don’t like something, there’s a process to change it. Perfection is probably off the table, so any reform in any area would be imperfect in some other way.

So it is with the SAFE Act.

Here’s a modest proposal. Perhaps Wilber’s committee and the 2AS can identify two or three of the most egregious elements in the SAFE Act, and make common cause with other counties to reform the reform.

Most of the complaints about the SAFE Act, it seems, have to do with a too-complicated process, inconvenience and expense. Can’t that be tinkered with?

Can the ferment generated by my-way-or-the-highway sanctuary movements – guns, immigration or whatever – be channeled in to sensible, incremental reform?

That would be the American Way, at least as we used to consider it.

WILCOX: 2nd Amendment Relic Of Early Republic


2nd Amendment Relic

Of Early Republic

To the Editor:

Otsego County is facing a proposal to declare this county a “gun sanctuary.” This would mean that our county board would ban compliance with the Safe Act passed by the state Legislature in 2013.

That act promoted, among other things, background checks, banning assault weapons, and limiting ammunition. It was not anti-gun, rather it was pro-gun safety.

However, the Safe Act has been perceived as a violation of Second Amendment rights by citizens who feel that guns are a vital part of their protective system and feel their right to buy any gun and any amount of ammunition is being blocked.

They cite this Amendment as if it were intended to be unchangeable for all time. They seem unaware that the Constitution was drawn up in the turbulent period of seeking independence from England’s exploitive hold on its colonies in the New World.

Too, the war for independence relied not only on the Continental Army but well-armed militias.

Though the Constitution reflected important visionary, democratic rights, there were flaws in it such as lack of democratic regard for women and African-Americans. It was not a perfect, untouchable document. In fact, amendments were soon being made.

The Second Amendment was in the historical context of relying on well-armed militias to defeat lingering efforts of English troops to subdue the rebellious colonials, a condition that no longer prevails.

Yet, pro-gun citizens abetted by the National Rifle Association seem to believe the Second Amendment simply established forever the inalienable right to own guns and ammunition with no restrictions.

Fast forward, and we have a supposedly sane, First World country like the U.S. condoning its populace being armed by guns and unlimited ammunition, even those designed for warfare. This condoning of the vast arsenal of guns in our country ignores evidence that the more guns possessed in any country, the more deaths there will be by gunfire.
No wonder we are among the seven countries of the world with the highest rate of death by gunfire from murder, accident, suicide and mass shootings. It is as if we extol weapons of mass destruction.

Please, let us not take a step backward from the Safe Act by becoming a “gun sanctuary.” We accept many restrictions for car ownership and operation. Why? It lowers the motor vehicle death rate by making driving safer. Why should we not accept similar restrictions about guns?


Posts navigation

21 Railroad Ave. Cooperstown, New York 13326 • (607) 547-6103