Thousands gather at Empire State’s capital on Feb. 28 to support the Second Amendment and oppose New York’s Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act.
“This is the largest grassroots rally turn-out I have seen in my lifetime,” said Carl R. Gottstein Jr., a media promoter from Rensselaer County, who was tapped to coordinate back-stage security at the Albany anti-SAFE event.
What started off as a lobby day for New York State Rifle & Pistol Association morphed into a cultural event, said the five-year National Rifle Association member. “We had 10,000-plus patriots in the mud, that’s akin to a Tea Party Woodstock.”
“When our governor decided to strip away New Yorkers’ rights, we the people moved to reject those policies,” he said.
“The state police reported eight to 10,000 attendees,” said Tom Cavanagh, founder and organizer of Upstate Conservative Coalition. “It’s the biggest crowd convened at Albany that I have ever seen.”
New Yorkers came from all over the state, said the Air Force veteran. “We put together one Facebook page that linked everyone together from Long Island to Buffalo.”
Gun rights is an issue that brings people together from all walks of life, Cavanagh said.
“There were young, old, Republican, Democrat, Tea Party, and Occupy movements represented,” he said.
“They travelled by foot, by car, and on 170 buses statewide,” he said.
“When we permit the government to take our guns away, what’s next?” he asked.
“Next is we are helpless against the state,” he said.
Cavanagh said county by county, municipalities are voting on resolutions to reject the S.A.F.E. Act. “So far, we have 27 out of 62 counties resolving to not comply with Cuomo’s gun ban–that number will grow in the coming weeks.”
The local resistance will slow down the law’s enforcement, he said.
“It was an overwhelming, great show of people from all across the state who share our values and our way of life,” said state Assemblyman Steve Katz from Putnam County.
“This show of support is about more than just gun control,” he said. “It is about our ability to maintain our rights under the U.S. Constitution and the New York State constitution.”
Katz said the state government miscalculated the reaction of its citizens.
“Governor Cuomo would probably like this whole thing to go away. Even the Cuomo staff estimated low compliance, yet they forged ahead with the Cuomo show regardless,” he said.
“Cuomo and the state legislature are cowards,” said the two-term assemblyman.
“They were cowardly to push this legislation through without the 3-day review process.” “Cuomo is a self interest, self absorbed, opportunist,” said Carl Paladino, a self-made tycoon, and 2010 GOP candidate for New York governor. “Cuomo is so narcissistic that he can’t accept not getting what he wants.”
The governor is looking for a national reputation as the tough liberal, but it will not work, he said. “Cuomo has ruined his political career.”
Paladino said this moment in history is a unique movement for New York. “The fight for the Second Amendment has brought together families, women, men, and tax payers, like never before.”
Army veteran and former police officer, Christopher B. Pajarillo said he drove for two hours from Riverpool to attend.
“I felt honored to be a part of the crowd of all age groups and races who believes in freedom for our Nation,” he said. “There’s hope for New York!”