Keene was the featured speaker but far from the only one. Among the others to address the crowd were state Sen. James Seward, R-Milford; Assemblyman Clifford Crouch, R-Guilford; and Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, R-New Hartford.
The law was enacted a month after a mentally disturbed man, armed with an AR-15 rifle, massacred 20 students and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. But Newtown was rarely mentioned Thursday.
Seward was one of the few speakers to bring up directly, referring also to an ambush attack on firefighters in a Rochester suburb at the end of December.
“I was as horrified as anyone with what went on out there at Sandy Hook at that school, with what went on in Rochester with our first responders being killed,” he said. “I understand the sensitivities of gun violence, but I also recognize the reality of gun violence. It’s the criminal element, it’s the dangerously mentally ill, it is not you, the responsible, law-abiding gun owners of New York state. You are not the problem.”
Seward also ticked off the list of counties his district covers, saving for last “Herkimer County, the home of Remington Arms.”
“I’m very proud of my A-plus rating from the NRA, and I’m very proud to be one of the 18 no votes on the governor’s gun bill,” he said.
Crouch, among the most vocal opponents of the law, made note of the women present, although they appeared to make up no more than 10 percent of the crowd.
“A lot of people think this is a testosterone game here,” he said. “It is not. It’s a game for all of us, women, children, everybody is involved.”
He also was in no mood to amend the law or for compromise.