Group seeks 2nd Amendment sanctuary

The 2013 New York Safe Act was the “major catalyst” for the local law to turn Lewis County into a “Second Amendment Sanctuary County,” in which “unconstitutional” state laws would not be enforced by county officials. Watertown Daily Times

LOWVILLE — A trend in pro-Second Amendment activism nationwide that exists to varying degrees in 19 states has made its way to Lewis County, where a group of people organized through social media are moving fast to have their interests served.

Since Jan. 4, a Facebook page called “Lewis County and Towns 2A Sanctuary,” an offshoot of “Oneida County and Towns 2A Sanctuary,” has gained over 2,100 members and its founder, Lawrence Hoffert, has been reaching out to “like-minded people” throughout the county to right what they see as wrongs against the Second Amendment.

Group member and activist Beau Bailey said Mr. Hoffert and others wanted to start their own social media initiative to limit “political battles” and avoid arguments after noticing inflammatory posts on the Oneida page that didn’t add to the discussion of protecting gun rights.

As a result of the group that gathered around the page, a petition seeking the creation of a local law prohibiting the enforcement of state gun control laws seen as “unconstitutional” by the group has been circulating since about Jan. 14.

“There’s a lot of like-minded people trying to reach everyone we can,” Mr. Bailey said, “Word is still spreading.”

On Saturday, a “mass signing” event promoted on social media and around the county with flyers was held at seven local businesses.

Referring to the “God given right to bear arms” as being under attack by “unconstitutional” laws, the flyer specifically used the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013, known as the NY SAFE Act, as an example. The act was created in response to two mass shootings: one at Sandy Hook Elementary School and a second in Webster, Monroe County.

Firearm shop owner and National Rifle Association pistol permit trainer Patrick Morse said the SAFE Act was the “exact catalyst” for counties like Lewis to want to become “sanctuaries” against the implementation of laws the group sees as invalid by the state.

Mr. Morse will be presenting the petition and a draft of the proposed local law to make the county a Second Amendment sanctuary to the Board of Legislators on Feb. 4 at 5 p.m.

“We’re sick and tired of being on the defensive,” Mr. Morse said, “We’re tired of being treated like criminals by edicts handed down with no input from the people they impact.”

Citing the eight gun laws passed in the state last year and claiming state legislators have “a docket full this year,” Mr. Morse said, “They’re not going to stop, but enough is enough.”

“Local governments have the legal authority to refuse to cooperate with state and federal firearm laws that violate those rights and to proclaim a Second Amendment Sanctuary for law-abiding citizens,” the proposed local law states, declaring the title for Lewis County.

The law would prohibit any county employee, including all “peace officers,” from enforcing “any unlawful” gun law or to use county funds or assets to enforce laws “relating to an unlawful act” in connection with firearms.

The definition of “unlawful act” in the proposed law is “any state act, law, order, rule, or regulation” which bans, registers or limits “the lawful use of firearms, firearm accessories or ammunition.”

The only limitations accepted by the proposed local law are those “pursuant to federal law,” which are considerably less strict than provisions in New York state law.

Although infractions of this local law would be considered violations, the fine could be between $2,000 and $4,000 and could subject the person to being sued in the State Supreme Court.

People with felony convictions are prohibited under federal law are not covered by the Sanctuary law.

According to the proposed law, people who want to voluntarily register their weapons or apply for a concealed carry permit would still be allowed to do so, even though it would not be required.

Mr. Morse said “sanctuary cities,” which are not only cities but often counties or entire states, were introduced by Democrats with regard to immigration issues, so Republicans concerned for their Second Amendment rights decided to employ the same tool.

One major difference between immigration “sanctuary” areas and the one proposed for Lewis County is that in the former, municipalities refuse to cooperate with the federal government while locally the proposed gun sanctuary law refuses cooperation with state laws but allows compliance to federal laws.

Not everyone in the county, however, feels the Second Amendment is under threat or supports the Second Amendment Sanctuary County,

“I hunt and I can go anywhere to buy any hunting gun I want and the ammunition I want and there’s no problem,” said Daniel Rocker, a member of Indivisible Lowville, “I always wanted an AR-15 [assault rifle]. I was in the military and I loved my M16, but it’s ok. I don’t need it. It’s worth not having one to try and lower the gun violence. I don’t need it to hunt.”

Indivisible Lowville is a progressive organization that hosted two gun forums in 2018.

“The false sense of urgency to ‘rescue guns’ is only driven by paranoia,” said Indivisible co-leader Emily Lyndaker, “More unnecessary gun ‘rights’ should never take precedence over the most vulnerable citizens of our community. ‘All lives’ are supposed to matter right?”

Ms. Lyndaker suggested the group working toward the sanctuary law should instead work on improvements for the SAFE Act to propose.

Currently, only Wyoming County in Western New York is a Second Amendment Sanctuary County in the state.

About 37 businesses around Lewis County will continue to post copies of the petition to collect signatures until Friday.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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(29) comments


What I see in the article and comments is common among 2nd A gun rights advocates... for some reason this group and others seem to believe THEY get to interpret the 2nd A and the rest of us have to accept, seriously???... you and I don't have that authority. Judges and Courts do that...not an individual, or group... Based on that position we all can decide what laws we choose to follow... What's created this atmosphere is the lack of action as a result of numerous mass shootings...not just 1-2 ...typically involving assault style..mass capacity semi auto rifles..and in public places... Lacking a solution to that, the laws will keep coming... BTW, there was a ban on AR's for 10 years and the world kept turning..


I'm not going to say anything. These left wing comments are so embarrassing. Trying to delineate between them because of one's particular politics is just an attempt to rationalize hypocrisy.

hermit thrush

for people who know what all the words in this comment mean, and who know of fake holmes's frequent attempts to demean the intelligence of others, this is pure comedy gold.


The false sense of security that "gun free zones" create for some people is alarming, but what's even more alarming is that the Cool-Aid drinkers who push that narrative think it works! How many more people in the US have to die before they realize it's a falsehood?! Our foundering fathers included the 2nd Amendment right behind the 1st Amendment because they realized without the means to protect yourself from criminals, evil people and most of all Tyranny (Hitler, Stalin, Mayo Zedong, Mussonini, Pol Pot, etc..., this country could look just like North Korea, Germany in the last 1930's and into the 1940's and so on. If you don't want to own a gun, then don't! But stop trying to deprive the rest of us from exercising our God given right to Keep and Bear Arms!

Holmes -- the real one

"....God given right...." ??

Where in the world did you get that idea?


Thanks for asking.

Rights held by an individual which are not bestowed by law, custom, or belief, and which cannot be taken or given away, or transferred to another person, are referred to as “inalienable rights.”

The Declaration of Independence gives three examples of inalienable rights, in the well-known phrase, “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

The U.S. Constitution recognized that certain universal rights cannot be taken away by legislation, as they are beyond the control of a government, being naturally given to every individual at birth, and that these rights are retained throughout life.

The history of “inalienable rights” are also referred to as “unalienable rights”.

The Constitution recognized these inalienable rights with the phrase: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their CREATOR with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Some of the Constitutional rights considered to be “inalienable” are:

 To act in self-defense

 To own private property

 To work and enjoy the fruits of one’s labor

 To move freely within the county or to another country

 To worship or refrain from worshipping within a freely-chosen religion

 To be secure in one’s home

 To think freely

Sadly, over the decades, some of these rights have been infringed upon.

hermit thrush

this completely avoids holmes's question.


Yes, for example Republicans put border checkpoints between North Country towns. You had to get permission from a federal agent to drive from Potsdam to Winthrop. Our local 'small government" Republicans pulled their pants down like good little lemmings.


Thanks for replying, I'll give you the right to have as many flintlocks as you wish. Burt the founding fathers could not have anticipated an AR15 any more than a nuclear weapon. And I believe their interpretation may have restricted ownership to white male landowners. '

Holmes -- the real one

From your reply it is easy to understand that you are really speaking about being afraid.

Your launching off this barrage of circuitous reasoning (which, as hermit thrush helpfully points out, completely sidesteps my question) is a transparent example of the use of the same logic underlying the stockpiling and activating of weapons: i.e. someone asks a question which is perceived as threatening, --- so quick! shoot off the biggest gun you can lay your hands on. Never mind that there is no sight on that weapon, hopefully the big boom will make that someone run away.

Of whom are you really afraid? And just who is this enfeebled “God” that urges you to stockpile weapons?

It’s plain to see from your comment that no accumulation of weapons, no matter how powerful, has yet been able to assuage that fear.

Think about it --- If you step back and look at the gun rationale you are providing here, you might also be outlining Iran’s position on obtaining nuclear weapons. (Incidentally, you are also providing justification for all peoples to move freely and seek a better life wherever they might choose to go.)

Fear is a hard taskmaster. The demand for vigilance is never ending and ever-escalating. The “fruits” of that labor are few and bitter. Additionally, when a person persists in carrying the level of suspicion which demands accumulating weapons for this kind of “defense,” that suggests that the origin of that fear of others is rooted in recognition of the covetous urges in the self.

Our Constitution indeed speaks to finding safety and support. But that protection and security emanates from our unity as a people and from our respect for upholding the rule of law. As we recognize and respect the rights and autonomy of others, so do we find ourselves recognized and respected.

hermit thrush

the ahistoricism of this is wild. if you think guns are good, then fine, but the reason the founders put in the 2nd amendment is because they were practically obsessed with militias.


And rightly so since we didn't yet have a standing army. It is to protect us from enemies, both foreign and domestic.

hermit thrush

the founders were dead-set against having a standing army. they thought that would be the path to tyranny. history has proved them completely wrong. what do you make of that?

hermit thrush

"But stop trying to deprive the rest of us from exercising our God given right to Keep and Bear Arms!"

likewise, please stop forcing the rest of us to live under the cloud of terror from gun violence.


I believe Hitler's and Mussolini's minions ordered all guns to be surrendered, then, if it was thought they were not, a bunch of kids, women and old men would be executed in the public square until it was felt compliance was met. There is a cave, just outside of Rome, Italy, where hundreds of kids and women were forced to enter, then was dynamited as a deterrent to shooting an Hitler Officer.


How did using guns to "Stand Up to the Government" work for the people at Waco? Pretty good if you think watching your children die horribly in a fire is "good".


I own a dozen guns and not one of them is an AR. How is universal background checks hurting your right to protect yourself? The answer is it doesn't so stop pretending it does. You can't have a god given right if there is no god. It's in the Preamble of the constitution that it's the responsibility of protecting its citizens.


Why are NRA events "gun free zones"? Jesus loves handguns! Your God tells you to buy guns? What an excellent show of Christianity!


"Our foundering fathers" ha ha ha ha! Comedy gold! "How many more people in the US have to die before they realize it's a falsehood?! " Even funnier!

New York had 772 gun deaths last year, Florida has 2,800. You are four times as likely to be killed by a gun in Florida. Yet this guy wants Florida's gun laws in New York. Imagine being this dumb.


I might suggest you explain how individuals or groups get to determine their own interpretation of the 2nd A...and think the rest of the population must accept that?? Versus judges and courts... I don't have an issue with firearm ownership....with limitations... re - AR's...


I suggest a boycott of those businesses who are carrying a copy of the petition. Pinch em in the pocketbook.......check out the social media posts on that!

Holmes -- the real one

Excellent suggestion, MD.

I must be getting old. I'm just losing my tolerance for stupid.


Good god when are these clowns going to give it a rest?

Holmes -- the real one

Too bad you can't just stake out your little plot of land and make your own laws for your special area.

People could bring all kinds of weapons and just hang out there and use them.

Of course they would have to leave them there because of NYS law for the rest of the state.

But at least there would be no need for a locked cabinet or anything like that. We all know that these would be "law abiding gun owners" and that gun-related accidents never happen.


I mean if a republican Vice President had accidentally shot someone I would feel pretty stupid saying we should be able to carry guns everywhere. However this is Lewis County. How has “make America great again” worked for them? I guess meth making is growth in manufacturing.


Harrisville in Lewis County is now down to less than 600 people, with at least 2/3 of the population there on public assistance of some kind. Good to know that this county which is so poor and incompetent that it doesn’t even have a community college has such a strong command of the Constitution! They need these guns, as making Meth and collecting welfare are the two things Lewis County does best.


Prosecutorial discretion is a thing. A police officer can choose not to give you a ticket for going 5 over. But a law calling for that isn't prosecutorial discretion, it's changing the speed limit. Like some provisions of the SAFE act, I'm guessing it won't stand up in court.


Just say you want Florida’s gun laws in New York. Sorry you have such “insecurities” that you need to overcompensate.


Egads, what claptrap! One needs an AR-15 much like one needs the holes blown in 375,000 US citizens the past few decades. Another travesty, who pays for the carnage? A modest hospital bill for a gun shot victim is nearly $1,000,000. And the gun owner does not pay it, nor does the shooter. When one nut job kid takes Pappy's gun and can do a billion dollars of damage, its time to intervene in the gun free for all. (Schools have been bulldozed to forget the memories of shootings, and schools aint cheap either.) The constant TV footage stream of overweight bubbas laying stuffed dolls and candles has become so trite, it is beyond sickening.

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