2nd Amendment measures pass

Blair County voters embrace sanctuary referendums; turnout almost 30 percent

HOLLIDAYSBURG — Blair County voters have embraced the idea of creating a Second Amendment Sanctuary to provide another layer of gun protection rights.

In response to Tuesday’s ballot referendums proposed by the Blair County Tea Party, voters said yes in significant margins to the proposed sanctuary designation on the county level and on their municipal levels.

On the county level, unofficial returns show 16,551 voting yes to a Second Amendment Sanctuary and 5,603 voting no.

“I’m so happy with these results,” Tea Party President Rhonda Holland said Tuesday night. “We’ve been working on this for so long.”

Based on Tuesday’s unofficial results, where nearly 30% of Blair County’s 77,621 registered voters cast ballots, the county commissioners, Altoona City Council, plus all borough councils and township supervisors, will need to write and adopt an intermunicipal agreement aimed at meeting the referendum’s goal.

As stated on the ballot, the goal is to render assurance that “no taxpayer resources shall be used to enforce any legislation passed after Nov. 2, 2021, that would infringe upon an eligible citizen’s right to bear arms.”

Holland said she and her group will be willing to help craft the intermunicipal agreement.

“If it doesn’t cover the protections that we want, then we’ll raise a ruckus,” she said.

Some Pennsylvania counties and municipalities have already declared themselves to be Second Amendment sanctuaries. Cambria County commissioners made that declaration in a resolution they adopted in February 2020.

Fayette County commissioners, in March 2020, adopted a five-page Second Amendment Sanctuary Ordinance barring potential actions including the confiscation of firearms, firearm accessories and ammunition from citizens. Their ordinance also imposes a monetary fine for violations.

“We are going to have a look at what has passed in other jurisdictions,” Holland said. “When we started this, it was the wild, wild West out there. But now we can pick and choose from what’s been adopted elsewhere, then add our own touch.”

Blair County Commissioners Bruce Erb and Laura Burke, who were at the highway yard on Tuesday night assisting with the return of election materials, said they will be asking Solicitor Nathan Karn for guidance and advice.

In March 2020, Erb and fellow Commissioner Amy Webster signed a resolution in support of the Second Amendment. Burke voted no and pointed out that in Pennsylvania, it’s the state that controls gun laws.

“We’ll need to talk to the solicitor about what we have to do,” Burke said. “I think there are going to be a lot of questions.”

Voters had a lot of questions about the referendum, according to election leaders.

Those questions started shortly after ballots were mailed to the voters about 2.5 weeks ago.

“They didn’t understand what the questions meant,” Seymour said.

The county had about 7,000 requests for mailed ballots and of that amount, about 5,000 were returned, Seymour said.

Commissioners, who serve as the board of elections, opened and processed about 2,400 mailed ballots on Tuesday. Those votes were included in the election results made available Tuesday night.

The opening and processing of the remaining mailed ballots will continue today.

Because a large amount of write-in votes were cast, Seymour said those totals won’t be available until Friday or Monday.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 814-946-7456.


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