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March, rally converge at Capitol

March, rally converge at Capitol

Hundreds turn out to support sciences, others rally for Second Amendment rights
March, rally converge at Capitol
A 2nd Amendment rally participant yells at Congressman Paul Tonko, who attended an adjacent science rally at the Capitol.
Photographer: PETER R. BARBER/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER

ALBANY — Several hundred people convened on West Capitol Park for the second annual March for Science on Saturday. 

In the middle of speeches before the afternoon March for Science kicked off, hundreds of unrelated rally participants rounded the Capitol building marching for their Second Amendment rights. The scheduling was coincidental, participants’ activities restrained and respectful. And no incidents were reported.

Prior to the science march, Kate Shelly of Albany wandered an informational fair of booths, which featured various organizations and activities for children. 

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Shelly launched the inaugural march in Albany last year. The event is now coordinated by CapSci, which aims to advance the public understanding of science in the Capital Region. 

“It took a lot of work to organize,” Shelly said. “I think it’s great that it moved on to a bigger organization and that it’s getting more formalized.”

Shelly, an attorney, said she decided to launch the march, because she was concerned about the future of science and education. 

“There are so many random facts on the Internet and we need to have the ability to critically evaluate what we take in,” Shelly said. “Education is the start to making things better.”

Moving forward, she hopes the event continues for as long as necessary. 

“I hope it grows bigger and stronger,” Shelly said. “It’s important to maintain visibility.”

Siena College science majors Melissa Cooper and Gursimran Sahota attended Saturday’s event and brought signs, including one that said: “In science we trust.”

“Science is factual and backed with information,” Cooper said. “It bothers me when people say ‘they don’t believe in science,’ because it’s based on facts.

“Science is the foundation of what we have and what we’ve become.”

Sahota said she’d like people to stop taking science for granted. 

“A lot of people don’t understand the work that was put into it,” Sahota said. 

Dr. Gina Gould, president of the Museum of Innovation and Science in Schenectady, said while there are a lot of different scientific disciplines, science is about the discovery, investigation and pursuit of knowledge of how things work. 

“If we love science so much than we have to ask ourselves why are we here today marching for science,” Gould said. “We are marching to tell our elected officials that we are paying attention.

“Our culture is a direct result of science, and science is the only thing to ensure that we can continue to live in harmony.”

According to the Chicago Tribune, the National Constitutional Coalition of Patriotic Americans promoted on social media the Second Amendment rights rallies at state capitols throughout the nation.

Albany resident Matt Hofnagel said he participated in Saturday’s gun rights rally, because defending his right to protect himself is important. 

“I had a conceal and carry permit in Arizona and it took a year and a half to get it in New York,” Hofnagel said. “And it only means I can carry it while going to and from a shooting range or hunting.”

Hofnagel said he was told that in order to be able to carry a gun on him when he wants, he would need to prove he has an above average need to defend himself.

“That’s not fair,” Hofnagel said. “Everyone should be able to defend themselves.

“I carry a large amount of cash on me for my job and the judge told me that, that wasn’t a good reason. If that’s not a good reason, I’m not sure what is.”

Hofnagel said he made it a priority on Saturday to interact with those around him. 

“I want to show people that just because I want to defend myself, doesn’t mean I’m a monster,” Hofnagel said. “That’s what I hope comes out of this.”

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