Thousands of people gathered at the Empire State Plaza in Albany on Tuesday speaking out against the NY Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act.
Gun-rights activists ripped Gov. Andrew Cuomo for enacting the gun-control law last year. Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin, R-Melrose, and Sen. Kathy Marchione, R-Halfmoon, attended the rally and said they strongly oppose the measure.
“I have always been opposed to the SAFE Act. I voted no on the floor of course 15 months ago” Marchione said. “Everyone is concerned about registration leading to confiscation.”
The Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act bans the possession of high-capacity magazines, creates a registry of assault weapons and requires ammunition dealers to do background checks.
New Yorkers have until April 15 to register guns that are considered assault weapons under the SAFE Act. Marchione said some residents in her district have said, “no way, no how” on registering their firearms with the state.
“Some have told me they are getting prepared to register their guns,” Marchione said. “Some have told me that they have modified their firearms so that they don’t have to register.”
New York State Police revised their SAFE Act guide for officers not to enforce the law’s seven-bullet magazine limit after a federal district court judge found that the provision was unconstitutional under the Second Amendment.
“I think that’s the first step in the first court, and the National Rifle Association is working through the court process,” Marchione said. “But we have a lot of steps left to go to get rid of what I think is a very bad law.”
People in the crowd stood on steps in front of the New York State Museum during the three-hour-long rally and held signs that read, “I’m the NRA,” “We will not comply” and “Kiss my assault stick, Andy-boy.”
The pro-gun rally was organized by SCOPE, Shooters Committee on Political Education. National Rifle Association President Tom King stopped by but did not participate in the rally.
Jim Fischer, a local Republican challenging U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, also attended the gun rally. He said he believes the SAFE Act should be completely overturned.
He said the state police’s decision not to crack down on the SAFE Act’s seven-bullet limit shows that the law is “unenforceable.”
“I think the SAFE Act really should be appealed,” Fischer said. “You are turning law-abiding citizens into criminals. There’s really no point and it’s not going to serve the purpose that it was intended, which was to help cut down on gun violence.”
George Amedore, a Republican who was defeated by Cecilia Tkaczyk for the 46th Senate District seat, said at the rally it was “unfortunate the way the law was passed.”
“It was passed in the secret of the dark hours of the night and with a message of necessity and the lawmakers were not able to really evaluate what was in it,” Amedore said. “Freedoms of law-abiding citizens were infringed upon.”
Amedore said he expects to announce his plans “very soon” whether he will challenge Tkaczyk this year. The Senate district includes parts of Albany, Schenectady and Ulster counties and all of Greene and Montgomery counties.
“I have been evaluating it and what my options are,” Amedore said. “I will make an announcement very soon.”
Speaking at the rally was celebrity billionaire Donald Trump, Buffalo businessman and 2010 Republican candidate for governor Carl Paladino and this year’s first-announced Republican candidate for governor, Rob Astorino.
Astorino, who is also Westchester County executive, said if voters elect him governor he would work to have the SAFE Act repealed. Instead, he said New York should be focusing on mental-health issues.
“It’s just negative after negative and after everything they give you the NY SAFE Act,” Trump said. “We have to protect the Second Amendment.”