Town of Neversink Supervisor Mark McCarthy supplied this photo of the rally at the Capitol in Albany back on January 19 to protest the SAFE Act enacted by the state. As with the rally on February 28, many from the county made the trip in January. Wrote McCarthy: “According to the Albany Police, 5,000 attendees were at the rally, not 2,000 as reported by AP.”
Protest will shift to Monticello with March 21 rally at Government Center
By Dan Hust
ALBANY March 5, 2013 Thousands of New Yorkers including an estimated 150-200 Sullivan County residents gathered in Albany Thursday to protest the state’s new gun control legislation.
Locals Joe Siegel and Eric Frances coordinated two busloads of 56 people apiece to spend the day in the state capital lobbying lawmakers and listening to speeches decrying the SAFE Act, which Governor Andrew Cuomo and the State Legislature speedily passed in the wake of the Newtown, CT shootings.
Siegel, co-owner of Liberty Iron Works and a lifelong gun owner, said he saw at least 40-50 more locals who came on their own to the rally, sponsored by the New York Pistol and Rifle Association and the NRA.
“Hardworking people took the day off to save their Second Amendment rights,” he explained.
Speakers, including Republican NYS Senator John Bonacic and Democratic Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, shared that sentiment, expressing a desire to reverse a hastily-passed law they fear will uselessly and dangerously restrict legal gun owners’ rights.
“They’re going to turn us into slaves to the government,” said Siegel. “... This isn’t all about gun rights. This is about freedom.”
“This bill is not about assault rifles and making America a safer place,” wrote Ferndale resident Forest Darder in a written account of the rally. “It’s about stripping law-abiding American citizens from a birthright which they inherited from our forefathers generations ago.
“Our Constitution was written on the basis that all men are equal and have the right to be equal to that of the government in which they reside,” he added. “In New York State, we no longer have that right to protect ourselves equal to that of the rest of America.”
Siegel agreed, saying that previously-enacted gun laws are sufficient and that the courts shouldn’t allow criminals like William Spengler to plea-bargain their way out of jail. The Rochester man served 17 years in prison for killing his grandmother but was ultimately released and in December shot two firefighters to death before taking his own life.
Whether ralliers’ message resonates in Albany remains to be seen, as the topic is just as hotly contested by groups which see gun control as a needed and justified response to the recent spate of mass killings.
In the meantime, Siegel said the next step in the SAFE Act repeal effort is at the county level.
Sullivan County Legislator Gene Benson has already stated he’ll introduce a resolution opposing the Act at the March 21 full Legislature meeting at 2 p.m.
Prior to that at noon at the Government Center in Monticello, a rally will be held supporting the repeal effort.
Darder views it as an imperative for gun owners to let politicians know how they feel.
“Someday our children will ask us what it was like when we could own firearms and be able to protect ourselves,” he wrote. “I just hope that we can all look them in the eye and answer it honestly.”