New Berne board proposes gun-sanctuary law

Photo from Facebook
Sean Lyons, second from right, has posted this as his profile photo on his Facebook page. He poses while displaying a hand signal associated with the Three Percenters, a far-right militia group that has been accused of anti-government ideologies and plots. The third man from the left is wearing a shirt with the group's logo.

BERNE — At Berne’s reorganizational meeting on Jan. 1, the town board set a public hearing for the “Second Amendment Sanctuary Ordinance,” which would attempt to undermine state and federal firearms regulations in the town of Berne.

But at the board’s monthly meeting on Jan. 8, it was announced that, rather than passing a law as originally planned, the board instead would probably pass a resolution. Supervisor Sean Lyons said that there would be no public hearing on a resolution.

At the Jan. 1 meeting, all the board members, save the lone Democrat, Joel Willsey, had voted in favor of introducing the bill. Willsey abstained. 

Willsey told The Enterprise on Thursday that he hadn’t seen a copy of the proposed law before the meeting. Board members did not explain or discuss the bill at the Jan. 1 meeting.

Lyons told The Enterprise on Thursday that final edits were being made to the bill before it is posted on the town’s website and then, after that, he would answer Enterprise questions on the proposal.

“I do feel safe in my hometown,” Lyons said in an email responding to Enterprise questions, “but it seems trouble is finding its way to everyone’s hometown.”

He went on, “Unarming our citizens like the Governor is trying is not the way to make it safer. Like the church shooting in Texas this past weekend, parishioners exercising their Second Amendment rights ended what would have been excessive loss of life.

“Gun control laws only hurt law-abiding citizens. Criminals do not follow the law? I believe the gunman in that shooting was a felon and lost his Second Amendment rights yet he had guns? How did gun control laws work here?”

The original draft copy of the bill was grounded in the Second Amendment and historical legal cases, stating that “the right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental individual right that shall not be infringed; and all local, state, and federal acts, laws, orders, rules or regulations regarding firearms, firearms accessories, and ammunition are a violation of the Second Amendment.”

The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution says: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

The Berne ordinance would have prevented all agents of the town from cooperating with state or federal processes related to “any Unlawful Act, as defined herein, regarding personal firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition.”

The draft ordinance defined an “Unlawful Act” as any that infringes on the constitutional right to bear arms. This would include additional costs, in the form of taxes, fees, levies and stamps, associated with firearms or firearms accessories that don’t apply to other goods. It also would have forbidden the registration or tracking of firearms, firearms accessories, and their owners.

Confiscation of firearms and accessories would have been prohibited, as would the regulation of accessories like suppressors, bayonet mounts, and bump stocks, among others.

Bump stocks are devices that assist in the technique of bump firing, allowing the user to fire more rounds than through traditional use of a weapon.

They were banned by the Trump administration in 2018 following bipartisan outcry when it was discovered that mass shooter Stephen Paddock, who killed 58 concertgoers in Las Vegas in 2017 and wounded over 400 more, used bump stocks to increase his rate of fire.

This summer, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill backed by local Assemblywoman Pat Fahy that made it a crime in New York to make, sell, or possess devices that modify firearms to make them function like automatic weapons.

In 2013, in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting in Connecticut, New York State passed, with bipartisan support in both houses, the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, known as the NY SAFE Act.

That year, Berne Town Hall saw a large turnout with residents speaking against the gun-control law. In April 2013, the Berne Town Board passed a resolution denouncing the quick passage of the SAFE Act.

The SAFE Act became an election issue that year with the GOP candidate for supervisor, William Keal, calling for repeal of the act. His opponent, Kevin Crosier, said he liked parts of the law but objected to the hurried process of passing it.

At the September Berne Town Board meeting, the three Democrats then on the board passed two resolutions that required a metal detector to be used for weapons-checks at town meetings. On New Year’s Day, the new town board undid those resolutions, with only Willsey voting “no.”

But, before the September resolutions, Berne’s town code had already prohibited the public from carrying guns, concealed or not, in a town park, and the Employee Handbook forbade town workers and officials from “possession of weapons, including but not limited to knives, firearms, and explosives on Town property.”

Presumably, if the new law had been adopted, those regulations would no longer stand. It is unclear how the now-proposed resolution would affect Berne’s current code.

Offenses against the original proposed Berne ordinance would have been considered a Class A violation, and a fee of $2,000 per offense for individuals and $4,000 for corporations would have been charged to violators. 

Gun rights

On the same day Berne set the public hearing for the firearm sanctuary ordinance, Supervisor Lyons posted a photo of himself displaying the hand signal of a far-right militia group that has been described as “anti-government” and is connected to a failed 2017 bomb plot in Oklahoma.

The photo, which is displayed as Lyons’s profile picture on his Facebook page, shows him with six other people, each holding up three fingers, a gesture associated with the Three-Percenters far-right militia.

Lyons, who works at the Army’s Watervliet arsenal, answered Enterprise questions about the profile picture in an email, saying, “This is a group of friends at an anti-NYS SAFE Act rally held at the Berne Town Park in 2014. 

“Many in the picture including myself were members of a grassroots organization whose efforts were to get people awake to the dwindling constitutional freedoms in our state and get people active in local governments, it was called the New York Revolution. It broke up in 2017.”

The Berne Republican Party gained traction in the midst of protests against the NY SAFE Act.

“During the American Revolution it was said that only three percent were awake and active against the Crown,” Lyons continued in his email, “so that is why we are all holding three fingers out. The one gentleman’s shirt in the photo with the ‘III%’ actually says ‘New York Revolution Awake and Active.’”

Lyons concluded, “I do not know much about the larger Three Percenter group and am not a member but I know the basic principle is the same in regards to the American Revolution. I would not agree with ‘far right militia’ as the New York Revolution was also labeled that way, unfairly.”

The Three-Percenters is a national organization founded in 2008 that purports to exist as a means of organized defense against the federal government should it “takes up arms against the American people.” The group’s co-founder, Michael Vanderboegh, was affiliated with the Oath Keepers, which the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as “one of the largest radical antigovernment groups in the U.S. today.”

A commenter on Lyons’s post shared a split image in which the top half depicts a man and woman with the caption “Good afternoon sir, would you like to sign our gun control petition?,” and the bottom half depicts a man with a rifle ostensibly pointed at the couple with the caption, “Get off my lawn!” 

Lyons “liked” the post.

The Three Percenters denies on its site that it advocates violence or the overthrow of the American government. Nevertheless, a 24-year old man from Oklahoma who described himself as advancing the Three Percenters ideology was convicted this year following a failed plot to bomb an Oklahoma City bank. 

On its site, Three Percenters sells a sticker that reads, “Throat punch donor.”

In its bylaws, Three Percenters says that, when questioned by authorities about stockpiling supplies, “responding that it is preparations for the zombie outbreak is a quick way to get dismissed as a threat.” ​

Joined: 05/11/2019 - 09:16
gun control

I'm sure these Town Laws will deter the Feds in 2021.

OK I'm being a smidge sarcastic.

It's like posting a sign at the border saying, "We're the next Ruby Ridge."

We dare ya'

Pat Kosorek's picture
Pat Kosorek
Joined: 01/03/2020 - 19:49
“Anti-government ideologies”??

“Anti-government” ideologies??? Supporting Freedom, the bill of rights and obeying the constitution isn’t “anti government”!! It’s pro AMERICAN!! How about “OUR GOVERNMENT”. Has become “anti-American”?? Their should be no laws needed to protect an inalienable right which is not to be infringed! Figure it out commie liberal dictators. Pick up a dictionary. God Bless America!! And all those willing to stand up for what it is!!

Pat Kosorek's picture
Pat Kosorek
Joined: 01/03/2020 - 19:49

*their. = there. Lol

Pat Kosorek's picture
Pat Kosorek
Joined: 01/03/2020 - 19:49
Inalienable rights

What if I said “Journalists can only write positive things about government.”?? Or “They can only write government approved articles.”??? Would that seem a bit tyrannical and dictatorial?? Let that sink in.

Pat Kosorek's picture
Pat Kosorek
Joined: 01/03/2020 - 19:49

“When you’re dead, you don’t know you’re dead. The pain is only felt by others. The same thing happens when you’re stupid.”

Pat Kosorek's picture
Pat Kosorek
Joined: 01/03/2020 - 19:49
U.N. Hiring disarmament and demobilization officers in NY!

“Job Opening
Department/Office: Department of Peace Operations
Duty Station: NEW YORK
Posting Period: 26 December 2019 - 08 February 2020
Job Opening Number: 19-Security Institutions-DPO-127453-R-New York (R)
Staffing Exercise N/A

Pat Kosorek's picture
Pat Kosorek
Joined: 01/03/2020 - 19:49

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