LOWVILLE — Although it was not officially on the Lewis County General Services Committee’s agenda, more than 30 activists for the Second Amendment Sanctuary County movement filled the seats of the Lewis County Legislators’ board room on Tuesday afternoon.
Board Chairman and District 8 Legislator Lawrence Dolhof thanked everyone for coming and said that while the board understands the group’s concerns, any action the county could take is only “a patch to the problem, not a fix.”
“The fight for this is in Albany,” he said, but that the board is in the process of researching what other states and counties have done to support the gun sanctuary movement to inform their actions.
Many of those in attendance gathered outside the boardroom to talk about what was said after leaving the meeting.
“It’s all or nothing. If they don’t do what we want, I mean, they work for us, we’ll vote them out,” said Colin Olmstead of Croghan.
Mr. Olmstead acknowledged that board members work for the entire county, not just the interests of the few, but said, “But if they [Albany] just keep chipping away and chipping away, people get fed up. We want our county to back us when we do go to Albany.”
Others talking about what they saw as non-action from the board said the law they follow is the Constitution, not state or federal laws, by way of justification for the sanctuary. Legally, because legislators take an oath to uphold the laws of both the county and the state, to order law enforcement to disobey state gun laws could result in losing their legislator positions.
“You’ve got people in there that are scared to death of Albany,” said arms shop owner and National Rifle Association safety trainer Patrick Morse who is one of the spokesmen of the group. But for District 5 Legislator Richard Chartrand, it’s a lose-lose situation.
“If you break your oath, the Governor will take you out of office, and on the other side they want to vote you out of office when you could be doing so much more for the community,” he said, “We’re here to protect the taxpayers from liability, too. This is unknown territory.”
A five-member committee created to “delve into the issue” is looking at what steps places like North Carolina and Virginia have taken to ultimately come up with a resolution that addresses the concerns of their constituents and works best for Lewis County.
The committee consists of District 2 Legislator Randy Lachausse, District 4 Legislator Ian Gilbert, the legislators from Districts 9 and 10, Thomas Osborne and Jerry King, respectively, Mr. Dolhof and County Attorney Joan McNichols.
About 300 people attended the board’s Feb. 4 meeting out of the nearly 3,000 who signed the petition requesting legislators to pass a local law prohibiting county employees, including those in the Sheriff’s Office, from enforcing state gun laws to make Lewis a Second Amendment Sanctuary County.