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Blair eyes gun-rights sanctuary language

HOLLIDAYSBURG — Blair County commissioners are asking for more public comment and recommended language that will make Blair County a Second Amendment gun-rights sanctuary through an intergovernmental cooperative agreement.

At the Jan. 11 commissioners meeting, several people addressed commissioners and told them a draft agreement prepared by several local governmental solicitors lacked teeth. As proposed, it included the language from November’s referendums, barring use of taxpayer resources for any measures infringing upon the right to bear arms.

Since the Jan. 11 meeting, the county has received few additional comments.

So when commissioners met Tuesday, they spoke of a desire to receive more public comment and some language for the agreement they’re to adopt, based on the referendums voters approved.

Commissioners Chairman Bruce Erb, during Tuesday’s meeting, said he appreciated the public comments provided during the Jan. 11 meeting, including ones from Bonita Shreve, president of the Blair County Second Amendment Coalition, who also submitted comments in writing to his attention.

But Erb said Tuesday that he would like to see more specifics, preferably in writing.

“(So far) there’s nothing specific for us or the other municipalities to look at,” Erb said. “Just speaking for myself, I think that would be really helpful.”

The county offers an email address — publiccomment@blairco.org — that will receive written comments and recommendations for distribution to all commissioners and for presentation at a commissioners’ meeting.

Commissioner Amy Webster, who participated in Tuesday’s meeting by phone, said she received an email from Frankstown Township resident Donald Corle, recommending the county create a task force — including some elected county leaders — to review the draft agreement the solicitors prepared. That idea surfaced at the Jan. 11 meeting where the idea of creating an advisory committee came up.

Webster suggested that a task force or committee could bring a proposal to the commissioners, for distribution to the municipalities.

But Erb and county Solicitor Nathan Karn said that the county has no greater role in drafting the proposed agreement than any of the other 24 municipalities whose voters cast ballots in favor of creating the sanctuary.

Commissioner Laura Burke also added that if the county creates a task force with elected county leaders, then it may be “creating a board with an implied degree of power that it doesn’t have.”

Erb and Webster also spoke of relying on Blair County’s Second Amendment Coalition for assistance, since that group formed to get the referendums on the November ballot.

“They do have a structure … and they have all the research and information behind them,” Webster said.

Coalition President Bonita Shreve, who attended Tuesday’s meeting, offered some recommendations for the proposed intergovernmental agreement. She read them quickly during a presentation that was restricted to three minutes, based on the public comment policy commissioners recently adopted.

Erb asked Shreve to submit her presentation in writing for further review by the commissioners.

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

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