The "Civil Rights – 2nd Amendment Rally" was sponsored by: National Rifle Association, NSRPA, activist JJ Johnson–Smith and the Second Amendment Foundation. As word spread of the rally, buses were chartered by 2nd Amendment advocates from across the state to bring people to participate.
One group, SCOPE (Shooters' Committee on Political Education) launched more than thirty buses from as far away as Buffalo, Syracuse and Watertown.
The president of the NRA, David Keene, spoke at the event and said Governor Cuomo and other lawmakers missed the mark with the gun control measure. "The semi-automatic rifle that most of these folks don't like is owned by four and a half million Americans,"
As to why people would leave their homes and jobs on a Thursday to send this message to the governor, the reason was generally that people feel ignored and that government this time has overstepped their authority. "I'm standing up for the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms," said Jim Skeldon of Watertown.
"We're just trying to show most of the politicians that there is a large number of people in this state who are outraged over what they did," said Bart Bonner who rode a bus from Waatertown (http://bit.ly/Y5IO7Q).
In the St. Lawrence County public forum last week on a resolution opposing the SAFE Act, the sentiment that with this law, the people had awoken and would hold elected officials accountable. That sentiment extended to this protest as well. "I think that come around next election time, there's gonna be some changes in the politicians," said Joe Pistolesi of Gouverneur (http://bit.ly/Y5IO7Q).
The labor union SEIU had planned a counter-protest to confront the gun rights advocates, but cancelled last week. They planned on loading buses from nine sites around NY City and Long Island promising their members free meals to attend. SEIU decided not to follow through with their march.
When asked about the rally, Governor Cuomo said that he is a gun owner, but the change in the law is long overdue.
The SAFE Act passed on Jan 19 with little debate and no public input. Some lawmakers only had 20 minutes to review the bill before voting on it. The governor declared a "message of necessity" to push the bill through in just a few hours, bypassing the three day debate period normally required by the NY Constitution.
The governor said that he didn't want gun sales to spike across the state while the bill was debated.
Among the most unpopular provisions of the law are the required renewal of pistol permits every five years, registration of all firearms starting next year, making all NY gun owners' personal information available to freedom of information request starting in May and limiting magazines to no more than seven bullets.
Acknowledging 30 percent of New Yorkers are opposed and feel strongly about it, he calls the law ``a reasonable approach'' to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill that also bans high-capacity assault weapons that can kill many people quickly (http://bit.ly/ZVy17c).
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