Sanctuary movement includes local man

Shawn Waltman, of New Columbia, said Union County may soon be petitioned to consider a Second Amendment Sanctuary Ordinance (SASO).

MIFFLINBURG — Buffalo Township supervisors recently asked their solicitor to look over a second amendment sanctuary ordinance (SASO).

If adopted, it would exempt the locality from spending public money on what supporters believe are unconstitutional firearms regulations. Literature from the Gun Owners of America (GOA) included emergency protection orders, enforcement of background checks and red flag laws among them.

The GOA has circulated a template for a proposed SASO, which Supervisor Joseph Wise hoped to distribute among other townships and Union County government. The municipality may also opt to introduce an SASO of its own.

“We will have a rough draft brought back to us for us to critique, to look over, to make sure that it complies with the Second Amendment ordinance,” Wise said. “It is not radicalism. It is trying to protect the rights of the people based on the Second Amendment.”

Wise was hopeful, but made no guarantee, that a draft could be completed by the February township meeting.

The number of SASO supporters has seemingly increased nationwide since the start of the year. Some supporters have cited a shift in Virginia state government since Jan. 1 as their motivation. It was feared that stricter firearms laws introduced there would be a harbinger of similar measures elsewhere.

“Between the federal government and the state government, every time they try and come up with new legislation to make more laws that will actually pull more rights away from the Second Amendment,” Wise said. “That’s what people are getting tired of. Taking more of your Second Amendment rights away, slowly coming in the back door and changing things that actually end up changing the constitutional rights of the people.”

Shawn Waltman, of New Columbia, started a petition drive to illustrate support for an SASO. He said a template for an SASO, supplied by the GOA, was written by the group’s attorney.

“After a certain period of time when we feel we have enough signatures and support from local communities at that time, we will take the petitions as well as the ordinance to county commissioners,” he added. “(They) will review and hopefully approve it.”

Waltman, who described his role as sanctuary ordinance coordinator, was asked to speak at the recent Buffalo Township meeting. It also drew about 30 additional supporters.

Waltman offered a scenario where a measure of the sort proposed could be cited.

“If governor Wolf passed a law tomorrow that said, ‘I’m outlawing semi-automatic weapons. they have to be turned in.’ If a county was under this ordinance, a county would not be able to utilize county funds, country resources to enforce that ordinance.”

Waltman said SASO supporters hoped to visit other municipalities at their public meetings. Bradford County has reportedly passed SASO legislation.

Critics have noted that it is unclear how a second amendment sanctuary would actually work. The term was borrowed from the “sanctuary city” concept whereby municipalities have chosen to not enforce certain federal immigration laws.

Some SASO measures have reportedly been worded as proclamations and are non-binding.

Staff writer Matt Farrand can be reached at 570-742-9671 and via email at

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