WATERTOWN — A group of residents have begun pushing to make Jefferson County a Second Amendment sanctuary, mirroring efforts under way in Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.
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Noah Latham, a soldier who has been stationed at Fort Drum for three years, created an online petition at Change.Org two weeks ago urging the Jefferson County Board of Legislators to establish a sanctuary. The petition has garnered more 2,035 signatures as of Wednesday afternoon, nearing Mr. Latham’s goal of 2,500. He said he has also left print petitions at about a dozen local businesses.
Recent gun regulation proposals from state lawmakers and inspiration from similar movements in neighboring counties and other areas of the country prompted Mr. Latham and his friends to seek a Second Amendment sanctuary for Jefferson County, he said. A few examples of proposed gun legislation that Mr. Latham said worries him include a state Senate bill requiring gun owners to obtain no less than $1 million in liability insurance and a state Assembly bill that would limit the sale of ammunition for assault weapons.
“Some of them are a bit draconian and are really overreaching,” he said.
While lawsuits have been filed to abolish the SAFE ACT, Mr. Latham said progress toward any conclusion has been too slow. He said he felt his friends could better address their concerns at the county level.
Mr. Latham said he plans to present all petitions and a proposed ordinance to the Jefferson County Legislature at its next meeting March 3.
Jefferson County Sheriff Colleen M. O’Neill released a statement about the effort to create a Second Amendment sanctuary on Wednesday.
She wrote that “eliminating or ignoring laws is not a luxury we enjoy,” referring to the state Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013, or SAFE Act. Any request to alter state laws should be presented to state lawmakers, who have the sole power to amend them, she wrote.
“We, here at the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, support all aspects of the United States Constitution including, of course, the 2nd Amendment,” she wrote, but added that, “It is our duty to enforce the laws of New York State, as written.”