Second Amendment sanctuary proposed in Jefferson County

Updated: Feb. 19, 2020 at 5:48 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Add Jefferson County to the list where residents are asking lawmakers to make the county a Second Amendment sanctuary.

Following in the footsteps of Lewis and St. Lawrence counties, the group has two petitions circulating, one online with more than 2,000 signatures and one on paper.

They also have a Facebook page for their cause.

Petitions are at more than a dozen Jefferson County businesses. They ask for the county Board of Legislators to to adopt an ordnance that would make Jefferson County a Second Amendment Sanctuary.

"We want to restore the Constitution and Second Amendment status as best we can because a lot of us feel that it has really been infringed upon by the SAFE Act and a lot of the new proposed laws," said Noah Latham, who started the petition.

Bill Nier says the petition at his store, Bill's Feed, has pages and pages of signatures, one of which is his own.

"I figure without the Second Amendment you have no First Amendment. It really doesn't matter what political party you are on. You got to have your rights; they are there for us; they are guaranteed," he said.

What is a Second Amendment sanctuary? It would allow law enforcement officials to enforce federal gun laws but not state gun laws. New York's laws are particularly tough.

"Our main goal of this whole movement is to limit the enforcement of these overbearing laws that are proposed," said Latham.

Jefferson County Sheriff Colleen O'Neill says the department supports the Constitution but adds "eliminating or ignoring laws is not a luxury we enjoy. It is our duty to

enforce the laws of New York State, as written. "

Latham says a group plans to bring the proposal to the March 3 legislators meeting.

“They are more than welcome and we will listen. I will tell you unequivocally we support the Second Amendment rights and the rights of gun owners but the sanctuary community concepts are probably not going to take place in Jefferson County,” said Legislature Chair Scott Gray (R. - District 13).

Both Gray and O’Neill also say that the real change in gun laws has to take place in Albany at the state level.

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