Thousands gather in Albany to protest NY SAFE Act
ALBANY, N.Y. (WKTV) - Staunch supporters of the second amendment from all over New York State crowded the capitol in Albany on Thursday, with roughly ten thousand children, adults, seniors and veterans sending a message to Governor Andrew Cuomo that they want the NY SAFE Act to go. They stood in several inches of mud on the west lawn to show their support; advocates of the second amendment, along with elected leaders addressing the crowd from the podium. "If we don't have the second amendment right, we won't be able to protect all the other rights, including freedom of speech and the freedom of the press," said David Montany of the Paris Hill Gun Club. "So without the second amendment, all the other rights are basically useless." "We can't let somebody take over and just walk away with our rights," said Cindy Johansen of Ulster County. "Little by little they're eroding every day. This is one way they've pushed. We're pushing back." From Ilion to Buffalo to New York City, the people in the crowd said it's not about firearms, it's about freedom. David Mackin served two combat tours in Vietnam and is from a fifth generation Ilion family that has always owned guns. He used to make them at Remington Arms, but on Thursday, he was in Albany fighting to keep them. He said he was fighting a law he felt makes no sense. "The robbers and the drug dealers, you think they care about a gun law? They'll be the only one with guns," Mackin said. Frank Green does not work at Remington Arms, but does depend on them for a paycheck. He owns Herkimer Tool and Machining Corporation, which does work for Remington. "It's more than just the jobs at Remington that are at stake," Green said. "And the employees at Remington, they buy groceries, they buy pizza, they buy everything else in the valley, so it's the whole economy of the valley that's at stake." "The most responsible people in the country are gun owners that go through training courses that hunt and fish and whatever. We're not the bad guys. Why penalize us?" Mackin said. "My family's always had guns and stuff and they pass this law that means nothing. It's not going to deter a criminal or a guy that's a little whacked out and wants to commit a crime." Local elected leaders in Albany met with more than fifty employees from Remington Arms who were at the state capitol on Thursday. While second amendment advocates and opponents to the New York Safe Act rallied outside the capitol hours before the demonstration was supposed to take place, local state lawmakers talked with the gunmakers about whether or not the show of support and emotion will actually change anything. "We will try to overturn this legislatively," Assemblyman Marc Butler said. "Obviously that's an uphill battle. You saw the numbers when the bills passed. I think it's much more likely if this is going to be overturned, it will have to be done in the courts. It will have to be a legal challenge." "I think our best opportunity to get rid of the law is through the courts and the lawsuit that's being filed and I'm fully supportive of that," said Senator James Seward. "The best effort now is to really look at amendments that can be done, because there are going to need to be amendments made to the bill because of some of the problems that are in bill, based on the haste in putting the bill together," said Senator Joseph Griffo. Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, whose district includes the Remington plant, is taking issue with the governor's amendment to the law exempting film makers from the regulations. "The governor is sustaining a culture of violence in the lives of our children," Tenney said. "He has, in one fell swoop, destroyed law-abiding New Yorkers' constitutional rights and rewarded those who are convincing our children that violence is common-place and acceptable in our society."