HORSEHEADS | Hundreds of sportsmen and women, gun enthusiasts and Second Amendment supporters gathered Saturday at the Horseheads American Legion to demand a repeal to the SAFE Act that limits gun ownership in the state.
The event featured more than a dozen guest speakers, including state and local politicians, representatives of gun-rights organizations, veterans and law enforcement officials.
The speakers and those gathered were unified by two common goals:
• The repeal of the SAFE Act, which, limits the number of bullets a magazine can hold, requires background checks for ammunition purchases, creates a state assault weapon registry and broadens the definition of assault weapons.
• Make sure the lawmakers responsible for passage of the SAFE Act pay at the polls.
“I was proud to vote against the SAFE Act and I am proud to co-sponsor legislation to get it repealed,” State Sen. Tom O'Mara, R-Big Flats, said. “But we aren't going to get this done until we get a new governor. It's important that we have a strong governor candidate.”
Assemblyman Chris Friend, R-Big Flats, agreed the legislative path toward repealing the legislation was an uphill one.
“Legislatively, it's more difficult with the state assembly firmly entrenched in anti-gun rights,” Friend said. “Members are not likely to move until they find out what Speaker (Sheldon) Silver wants them to do.”
Chemung County Sheriff Chris Moss agreed that gun-rights advocates were the underdogs in the legislative battle. He said it boils down to a battle of upstate counties versus downstate counties.
“In that battle, upstate loses,” Moss said.
Friend said that if the SAFE Act is to repealed, it's more likely to happen through the courts instead of by the Legislature. One of the reasons for Saturday's rally was to raise money for the upcoming legal battle through, among other things, gun raffles, the sale of T-shirts and other memorabilia and a pulled pork lunch. Anyone heard using the words “SAFE Act” instead of “Unsafe Act” was subject to an unofficial fine.
Another reason for the rally was to keep the pressure on legislators at both the local and the state level. Denver Jones said one of the ways to do this was to make their presence known.
“We need to keep elected officials cognizant that we are still here,” Jones said. “We can do that through T-shirts and lawn signs.”
Both Moss and Friend, however, said there are aspects of the SAFE Act that can be preserved. Moss pointed toward background checks, stiffer penalties for committing crimes using guns and enforcing the gun laws already on the books as aspects of the law both gun-rights advocates and gun-control advocates can agree on.
Most of the speakers at the rally weren't looking for common ground, however. They were looking for a fight.
“Thank you for standing up for your rights that have been infringed upon by the governor,” said Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, R-Corning. “It's mind boggling to me the governor is not afraid to trample all over the rights our veterans have fought for.”
Hundreds rally: Repeal 'unSAFE Act'
Mar 8, 2014 at 4:49 PM