Guns rights activists in the north country want local lawmakers to take up their campaign against state laws regulating firearms.

At the heart of their grievance is the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013. This legislation was passed in the middle of the night and offered few opportunities for residents to give their input.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo invoked a message of necessity, which allowed members of the state Assembly and Senate to bypass the three-day waiting period to vote on bills. Opponents have not forgotten how they were ignored by the people who are supposed to represent them.

And their frustration with how state legislators are crafting new gun laws has intensified over the past seven years. They want local governments to tell elected officials in Albany what they can do with their growing list of regulations.

Gun owners have made their presence known since the beginning of the year in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. They’ve asked legislators to create what are called Second Amendment Sanctuaries.

Suggested ordinances creating such entities would essentially prohibit police officers from enforcing state gun laws they deemed to violate the U.S. Constitution. This would let residents live according to policies more consistent with their understanding of gun rights enshrined in the document.

Members of the Jefferson County Board of Legislators passed a resolution Tuesday affirming their support for the Second Amendment. They expressed concern over state laws that allow for firearms to be seized “without due process” and that provide law enforcement agencies with information about gun owners “without a warrant or probable cause of the commission of a crime …”

This is the furthest that any of the three county boards advanced on the promptings of gun rights activists. It obviously falls short of what they wanted, which was to establish limits on how state firearm laws would be enforced within a specific jurisdiction.

We understand the sentiments expressed by Second Amendment advocates. We also sympathize with their sense of helplessness when it comes to having their voices heard in the state Legislature.

But legislators in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties have been wise to stop short of creating Second Amendment Sanctuaries. Such a move would very likely not survive a legal challenge. So they would end up spending a lot of money defending a local law ultimately deemed illegal by a court.

St. Lawrence Sheriff Brooks J. Bigwarfe and Jefferson County Sheriff Colleen M. O’Neill made the same point about this movement, and it’s a valid one. Local police departments cannot pick and choose which laws they want to enforce.

Some critics have countered that people in law enforcement often use their discretion in moving forward with a particular criminal citation. While this is true, there is a difference in what local gun rights activists want.

A police officer has the leeway of whether to write a ticket for speeding or merely issue a warning. But a Second Amendment Sanctuary would take this discretion out of their hands. The objective is to establish a jurisdiction where state gun laws they deem to violate the Constitution will not be enforced — no ifs, ands or buts.

This doesn’t mean that local gun rights activists have no outlet for their frustration. They should channel their grievances in ways that will capture the attention of state legislators. By attracting as many like-minded people as possible, they’re sure to get noticed in Albany and be able to press their case against these egregious regulations.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1


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(19) comments


Again the left reverts to a nation of needs, rather than freedoms. No thanks.


Holmes, freedoms or "rights" when practiced have duties and social responsibilities. In other words, you don't get to practice them "no matter what." Freedoms or "rights" may be restricted by laws when they, for example, impede social order, threaten the health and safety of others, contribute to social dysfunction and violence, etc. You seem to feel that because they are "on paper" (i.e. The Constitution) you can practice them unfettered, unchained, unrestricted, unchecked, and unrestrained. Imagine absolute freedom (absolutely free from authority). Imagine anarchy. Imagine a nation where what's "on paper" is safeguarded from human reason (common sense and logic) and our consciences.



Your comments are right out of Karl Marx's vision of communism and the social order.

No thanks. Bye!

Holmes -- the real one

Fraid not, fake "Holmes." As in NOT SO.

If you think you are correct and not just slinging false statements around, do please provide documentation that supports this view.


Actually, Holmes, my comments are from the American philosopher, psychologist and educational reformer John Dewey's writings on freedom and responsibility.

No. He's not a communist or socialist.

Holmes -- the real one

Where are your answers to my questions?

Mike from Casar

This is a flat out lie from the sycophants at the WDT's --->state laws regulating firearms.

This is NOT about "state laws regulating firearms." This is about the coward Cuomo passing the so called Safe Act in the dead of the night with with zero debate.. Meanwhile the clowns defending this garbage have no problems with Cuomo and the Dems releasing criminals back on the streets due to the idiotic reform bill just passed that has caused a 22% spike in crime in NYC.

Jerry Moore Staff
Jerry Moore

Mike from Casar:

The second, third and fourth paragraphs of our editorial reflect the points you make about the SAFE Act. But the state Legislature has approved additional laws that raise concerns among gun rights activists as well. Thank you for your feedback.

Jerry Moore

Editorial page editor

Watertown Daily Times



The bottom line: You have a law that was passed in haste to fix a problem that didn’t exist. The law has proven to be costly and unwieldly and does nothing to reduce crime or keep guns out of the hands of criminals. In the last 6 years there is zero evidence the SAFE Act has done anything more than punish law-abiding gun owners. During Cuomo’s tenure, nearly a million New Yorkers have left the state. This latest push for more gun control laws is nothing more than a resounding indictment of the SAFE Act’s complete failure. What has become abundantly clear is that this is nothing more than political pandering to his extreme anti-gun base. Crime rate in NYS has remained static, hmmm, imagine that.

Holmes -- the real one

Hi there fake "Holmes."

Well, we're looking at some grandiose falsehoods in that comment of yours.

Some facts:

1) In 2016, there were 10,007 violent crimes with a firearm reported to police, according to data from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. In 2013, there were 12,235. The percentage of violent crimes with a firearm also fell from 16 percent in 2013 to 13.5 percent in 2016.


3) If the gun owners are actually abiding by the law there should be no cause for them to have concern about being punishes.

4) If the reason that people leave NYS is because of restrictive gun laws, why are there so many folks who think as you do still here?

5) What WHAT about the SAFE act is extreme?? "extreme anti-gun base?" What nonsense. Look back at the provisions covered in the SAFE act -- I listed them above and also provided a link to the website. Tell me, which of those provisions irks you?


Bottom line: Florida has about 2800 shooting deaths a year every year. New York averages around 700. Republicans like you think Florida knows more about guns than New York. Republicans don’t understand guns or math.

Holmes -- the real one

Just what is it about the SAFE act that these folks find so onerous?

"The SAFE Act stops criminals and the dangerously mentally ill from buying a gun by requiring universal background checks on gun purchases, increases penalties for people who use illegal guns, mandates life in prison without parole for anyone who murders a first responder, and imposes the toughest assault weapons ban in the country. For hunters, sportsmen, and law abiding gun owners, this new law preserves and protects your right to buy, sell, keep or use your guns."

Is it the universal background checks?

Is it the extra penalties for using an illegal gun?

Is it the provision that requires life in prison for murdering a first responder?

Did you neglect to register your weapon because you don't want the State to know you have it?

Do you resent having to safely store your weapon (s)? (You are required to safely store a gun when a person less than sixteen years of age has access to it. You are also required safely store your gun if you live with someone who has been convicted of a felony or domestic violence crime, has been involuntarily committed for mental health reasons, or is currently under an order of protection.)

Is it because you don't think domestic violence perpetrators should have restrictions on the availability and use of firearms?

Just what is their real reason for objection to the SAFE act?


The Real One summarizes the view of rational, intelligent people throughout the State.

The WDT does not challenge the paranoid, confused, self centered minority who do not understand the workings of democracy. Why pander to these "my rights are more important than your rights" folks. What are the editors of WDT afraid of? The first amendment remains more important than the second amendment.

Holmes -- the real one

mjdmsw --

It looks like you have put your finger on it -- as far as the likely real purpose for this editorial.

What are we supposed to make of this, the last sentence in this editorial:

"By attracting as many like-minded people as possible, they’re sure to get noticed in Albany and be able to press their case against these egregious regulations."

Just what about the SAFE act is so egregious (outstandingly bad, and shocking)? One might think it would have been spelled out by the editorial writer if it was really so horrific and appalling.


Questions I would like to add to your excellent post, Holmes... the real one, are:

Do gun advocates believe that the SAFE Act will eventually morph into an all out ban on guns... that it's not the SAFE Act, per se, that they object to in its totality... its their fear that it's a prelude to an all out ban on guns?

I would like to better understand how gun advocates perceive the association between guns and our American heritage, inherited culture and militia/hunter/frontiersman spirit? They seem to be "culture warriors" committed to protecting a historical way of life and identity that I would argue is based on misinterpretations of the 2nd Amendment and have lost relevance due to modernity and the pressing crisis of gun violence.

(P.S. Holmes... the real one. Your response to Mr. Moore's correction to your post last week was refreshing and inspiring in terms of accountability. Thank you for showing us the way. Great respect for you.)

Holmes -- the real one

Good questions and probing insight, zeitgeist. I learn something from you every time you comment.

(P.S. thanks, that means a lot -- especially coming from you)


Far from representing an effort to creep up and grab all the guns, the SAFE act serves as the marker of the strongest gun legislation that can still pass constitutional muster (according to the people who actually are supposed to interpret the constitution). It crept up to that border, crossed it slightly (the magazine capacity bit), and otherwise has stood. As such it is a nice fence, showing where the line is. And when you put up a fence that means "this is my side, that is your side," not "I want it all." Putting up that fence is tacit recognition that everything beyond it is yielded.


Thanks for your fence analogy, rdsouth.

Holmes -- the real one

good analogy.

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