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Gun supporters sniping on eve of rally


   By Robert J. McCarthy

    ALBANY -- New York's Second Amendment activists are suddenly taking aim at each other on the eve of a giant Tuesday demonstration in Albany against Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's tough gun control law.
      After the president of the state's biggest firearms organization told the New York Daily News Monday that he would skip a Capitol demonstration that organizers say could draw 8,000 protesters, some fear much of the event's firepower may have been muzzled.
   "Let all these other groups go out and do what they want to do, because they don't want to listen anyway," Thomas King, president of the New York Rifle and Pistol Association, told the Daily News. "I just don't want to be a party to anything that may happen."
   King also recently told his membership that the rallies are "preaching to the choir" and will never convert those who are "rabidly" anti-gun. He said pro-gun rights advocates must concentrate on "the soccer moms, the guys who say I've never shot a gun but would like to try it and the people worried about their safety."
   But that kind of sentiment is not playing well with some of the scheduled "stars" of the Tuesday event, like Buffalo developer Carl P. Paladino, the 2010 Republican candidate for governor. He is slated to speak at the rally, along  with Rob Astorino, the expected GOP candidate for governor, and billionaire Donald J. Trump, who also flirted with running for governor this year.
   Paladino on Monday characterized King as a "flake," who "should back off" from his recent comments.
   "He acts as though he's going to participate and then at the end says he won't go," Paladino said. "I don't think anybody cares if he goes or doesn't go."
   The Buffalo developer said despite King's comments, he expects 7,000 to 8,000 gun rights supporters to rally outside the Capitol on Tuesday. He also said he, Astorino and Trump will represent "one big happy family," despite the criticism he has leveled at Astorino regarding what he calls the Westchester County executive's inability to defeat incumbent Democrat Cuomo in November.
   "I like Astorino," he said, "but he will have a tough time because of all the money Cuomo has and all the heathens who have filled his campaign.
   "That's why we are looking for a wealthy guy who shares our values," he said, adding he believes Trump has still not entirely closed the door on challenging Cuomo this year.
   Paladino sid he does not believe the Tuesday rally will be as big as the one that drew about 12,000 protesters to the Capitol last year, but will still be impressive enough to "send a message."
   "The message will be to the voters of the State of New York," he said, "that this will be their opportunity to go out and register to vote and get rid of Andrew Cuomo."

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Robert J. McCarthy

Robert J. McCarthy

A native of Schenectady, Robert J. McCarthy came to The Buffalo News in 1982 following a six-year stint at the Olean Times Herald. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and has been covering local, state and national politics since 1992.

rmccarthy@buffnews.com


Tom Precious

Tom Precious

Tom Precious joined The Buffalo News in 1997 as bureau chief at the state Capitol, where he covers everything from statewide politics and state government fiscal affairs to health care, environmental and municipal government matters. Prior to The News, he worked for news outlets in Albany and Washington, DC.

tprecious@buffnews.com


Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri is an Amherst native and has covered politics and government in upstate New York since 2003. She joined The Buffalo News in 2012 and covers City Hall.

@jillterreri | jterreri@buffnews.com


Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News Washington bureau chief, has reported from the nation's capital since 1989 after joining The News as a business reporter in 1984. A graduate of Syracuse University, Zremski is a former Nieman fellow in journalism at Harvard University. In 2007, he served as president of the National Press Club.

@JerryZremski | jzremski@buffnews.com

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