By Tom Precious
2:59 p.m. update: Differing opinions on crowd size
The Cuomo administration estimates the size of the crowd at about 4,000 to 5,000, while organizers say there are 10,000 to 12,000 attendees.
2:20 p.m. update: Signs tell the story
ALBANY - There were the usual “don’t tread on me,’’ flags, but demonstrators used a mix of signs to characterize their anger over the new gun laws.
A sprinkling of them, or at least the ones we can print:
"Cuomo has to go.”
“No More NYC Laws for upstate.’’
“We will not comply.’’
“Even Paterson can see this is wrong.’’
“Repeal the law. No amendments.”
And, the one that attracted the most number of protestors who wanted to be photographed standing next to its owner: “I wish my girlfriend was as dirty as your policy.’’
2:15 p.m. update: Western New York gun owners turn out in force
ALBANY – The crowd appeared to be less than 10,000 protestors organizers were predicting for today’s gun rally, but Western New York gun owners turned out in force to help push back against the state’s new gun control laws.
On more than a dozen buses sponsored by area gun owners, hunters and WBEN-AM 930, more than 1,000 protestors hailed from Erie County alone, organizers said.
“The goal is to draw the line in the sand and say you have pushed and we are pushing back,’’ said Clarence resident Mike Bowers, who stood along the park’s edge wearing his blue Buffalo Bills jacket.
The crowd was among the largest protests in a decade or more at the Capitol. It was heavily white, male and upstate-dominated, though there were a number of busses from the northern New York City suburbs.
Protestors chanted for repeal of the law, but many recognized that would not happen, given the numbers by which the law passed in the two houses and the support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. “It’s goingto have to be resolved in the courts because there's no change in the Assembly or Senate,'' said Rick Speth, a South Buffalo resident and Republican Party committeeman.
1:55 p.m. update: NRA boss bashes Cuomo
ALBANY - Between the signs, the taunts and the speeches, Gov. Andrew Cuomo was the chief target of much of the wrath at today’s run rally at the Capitol.
“Your governor is willing to sacrifice the constitution, your rights as citizens and prerogatives of his Legislature on the altar of his own ambition,’’ National Rifle Association President David Keene told the crowd of several thousand huddled on the west side of the Capitol this afternoon.
Keene told demonstrators, many wearing NRA hats and jackets, that it was hard for him to imagine there were politicians outside Washington with less regard for the Constitution. “But New York has proven once again that it can top Washington in terms of the high-handedness of the people that hold some of its public offices,’’ the NRA chief said.
Keene vowed to help push back against the new gun control law at the ballot box and in the courts. “We’re with you. We will help you defeat the politicians who would deprive you your rights. We will help you overcome these statutes in court,’’ Keene said of the lawsuit being filed against the new law by the NRA’s affiliate in New York.
Keene saved most of his verbal venom for Cuomo, who was out of town today. “He’s like a bad penny who keeps turning up,’’ he said of Cuomo. He recalled the push by former President Clinton in the 1990s for gun control efforts that was assisted by Cuomo, who served the president as his housing secretary. Keene said Cuomo called gun manufacturers around the country at the time and “threatened to destroy their company if they didn’t go along with Bill Clinton’s position on firearms ownership in this country.’’
11:32 a.m.: Gun rights demonstrators descend on Albany
ALBANY - Gun rights activists are filling the halls of the Capitol and a nearby park in anticipation of what organizers say will be one of the largest protest rallies in Albany in recent decades.
"I don’t know how many, but there’s a lot," said Stephen Aldstadt, president of SCOPE, the Western New York-based Shooters Committee on Political Education. He said 14 buses filled to capacity with 56 passengers apiece came from Erie County alone this morning for the noon rally in the west park adjacent to the state Capitol.
The demonstrators are seeking the repeal of the new gun control law, which even lawmakers who side with their cause say is all but impossible.
"It’s a long shot but we hope we can put enough pressure on them to at least undo some of the most onerous provisions," Alstadt said of the tougher restrictions on assault-style weapons and limits on how many bullets can be a gun’s magazine.
If the group is hoping their chants will be heard by the chief backer of the law – Gov. Andrew Cuomo – they will have to make it loud; Cuomo is far from Albany at events in New York City and later on Long Island.
The weather is certain to make for a Second Amendment mosh pit in the Capitol park; it is raining with the temperature hovering around 40 degrees -- warm enough to melt yesterday's snow and turn the park into a mess of mud.
In today's editions, Staff Reporter Maki Becker wrote about the busloads of people headed to Albany from Western New York.
taggedAlbany | Andrew Cuomo