City of Hamburg defends state’s attack on Second Amendment by attacking the First

Adan Salazar
March 7, 2014

A town in western New York state is pursuing charges against a man for refusing to remove a pro-Second Amendment sign from his property, an order the man and his lawyer are calling unconstitutional.

Hamburg man ordered to remove pro-Second Amendment sign / Image:
Hamburg man ordered to remove pro-Second Amendment sign / Photo by Frank Panusuk / Image:
It all started last October when Hamburg resident Scott Zwierucha began displaying a sign on his fence showing support for his county’s sheriff, who stood up to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and said he would not enforce unconstitutional gun laws or ammo restrictions.

“Sheriff Howard- Fighting for Your Rights,” read Zwierucha’s first sign, commending Sheriff Timothy B. Howard for displaying remarkable spine in the face of fierce political pressure.

Zwierucha received a notice from the town for that sign in November, but says when he went to speak with the Town Supervisor he was told it was fine as it was constitutionally protected free speech.

But on Jan. 14, Zwierucha received another notice advising him to remove the sign.

At that point, Zwierucha switched to different signage, a large banner that displayed in bright, bold letters the message, “NY IS NOT S.A.F.E.!! STOP CUOMO – PRESERVE YOUR RIGHTS!!”

The sign of course referred to New York’s notoriously draconian anti-Second Amendment law rammed through the state legislature in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting, which it turned out was so poorly crafted it actually turned police into criminals overnight.

In early February, Zwierucha received a summons indicating he had violated one of the town ordinances, specifically one dictating that “No images or language shall be painted, affixed to the outward side of any fence or directed at neighboring properties for any reason.”

Ironically, the town sent only him the second notice the day after the town board majority “flipped Democrat,” according to Zwierucha. His suspicions are sound considering our reportage of anti-gun democrats in the New York state Senate who had originally proposed gun confiscation be included in the SAFE Act.

“It in no way causes a problem for anyone,” Zwierucha told Buffalo News. “This is a first amendment issue. There are fences with commercial messages on it all over town,” he said.

It’s on this basis Zwierucha’s lawyer, Jim Ostrowski, wants the city to dismiss the case.

“You have an absolute right to have a political sign on your property in spite of any local laws to the contrary. . Off the public right of way you can have any sign you want and that’s been ruled on by the Supreme Court,” Ostrowski said during an interview with WBEN’s Hardline program.

Ostrowski may be referring to Ladue v. Gilleo, which in 1994 found a city law which prohibited a war protest sign in the window of a home was unconstitutional.

Gun rights groups, such as SCOPE and the Shooter’s Committee on Public Education, are already planning to hold a rally outside of the courthouse on Friday morning before the case is taken up by a judge.


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