Yates County SCOPE (Shooters Committee on Political Education) sponsored two busloads of people demonstrating against the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act.
housands of opponents of New York's new Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, gathered Thursday at the statehouse to lobby lawmakers and rally against measures they say infringe on their constitutional right to bear arms. According to the Associated Press , at least 5,000 protesters gathered in a park west of the Capitol, listening to speakers and carrying signs with slogans including "Repeal the law, no amendments" and "We the people, don't forget.
Among the crowd were those who rode two buses sponsored by Yates County SCOPE. Bill Button, treasurer of Yates County SCOPE said the rally which was scheduled to run for about 45 minutes, but it lasted more than two and a half hours. About 10 women from Yates County participated in a women's rally before the main rally.
"Enthusiasm and emotions were very high during the rally," reports Button.
National Rifle Association President David Keene told crowds that his group will help ensure the Second Amendment rights passed down to them will be passed on to future generations. They've lost battles before over the constitutional right to bear arms, he said, but they will not lose the war.
The new law sets a seven-bullet limit on magazines, tightens the definition of illegal "assault weapons" and requires owners of formerly legal semi-automatic guns to register them.
The crowd broke into chants at various times, saying they will not comply and that Gov. Andrew Cuomo, its sponsor, must go.
Assemblyman Phil Palmesano and Sen. Tom O'Mara, who each voted against the act, spoke to the crowd.
Sen.O'Mara said, "I stand with many citizens and local leaders from across the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions in opposition to the NY SAFE Act. Equally important, we're opposed to the shoddy legislative process that produced a law that's full of failings and shortcomings, and places even more state-imposed burdens on already hard-pressed upstate citizens and localities. We understand that the odds are long that Governor Cuomo will suddenly reverse course and agree to repeal it on his own. But this protest is going to have a lasting impact. The SAFE Act is now the vehicle giving voice to the importance of the Second Amendment, but also to long-simmering frustrations and anger at a state government largely controlled by downstate, urban-oriented, liberal powers-that-be who couldn't care less about upstate New York's economic decline, upstate's tax burden, our traditions and values, or our way of life."
"I want to thank the thousands of New Yorkers who came out today to fight for their right to keep and bear arms," said Palmesano. "It was incredible to see so many people, who like me, were shocked at how the SAFE Act was rushed through the legislature without any public input, discussion or hearings. I hope this sends the message that the fundamental rights of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were created for a reason and that turning law-abiding citizens into criminals won't solve the problems of violence we face in society."
O'Mara is also co-sponsoring legislation introduced in the Senate this week, being called the "Second Amendment Protection Act" (Senate Bill Number 3948), to try to repeal the new gun control law.
Two weeks ago, about 500 opponents rallied outside the Capitol, chanting they won't comply. The New York Rifle & Pistol Association, organizer of the rally, and other opponents have filed notice of their intent to sue in an attempt to overturn the law.
Cuomo has said the new law "will limit gun violence through common sense, reasonable reforms that include addressing the risks posed by mentally ill people who have access to guns and banning high capacity magazines and lethal assault weapons." He advocated it after authorities say a troubled 20-year-old killed 20 children and six adults at a Connecticut elementary school using a semi-automatic rifle and large magazines illegal under New York's law.
While the Cuomo administration and legislators are discussing possible amendments, the only ones disclosed so far would clarify that exemptions for filmmakers firing blanks and for police will continue under the new law.
Includes reporting by Melody Burri, GateHouse News Service.