By Richard Whitby
The Daily Star
---- — Local firearms enthusiasts and elected leaders are expected to be among thousands of protesters gathering today in Albany to voice opposition to a new law that tightens state restrictions on guns.
The law, NY SAFE, was passed and signed into law Jan. 15 in the aftermath of the massacre a month earlier of 20 children and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Its restrictions, described as some of the toughest in the United States, ban magazines that hold more than seven rounds, classify more guns as assault weapons, ban their sale and require people who already own them to register them with the state, among other provisions.
But gun-ownership activists complain that the law was passed too quickly, with too little debate.
“The main objection I have is the process, alone, I thought was terrible,” said Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, R-New Hartford, who said she would be attending the rally and had been invited to speak. “I’m on the Codes Committee, and when it came before the Codes Committee, not only had we found a number of errors already, just technical errors and mistakes, but so had the sponsor.
“Normally, what we would do it go back and amend the bill, but we didn’t because they said, ‘Oh no, this has to be passed today.’”
State Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, also will be attending and speaking, spokesman Jeff Bishop said Tuesday.
“It’s a session day, but yes, he’s planning on participating,” Bishop said.
Seward addressed the crowd at another pro-gun rally just over two weeks ago.
Assemblyman Clifford Crouch is among the most vocal critics of the law. He said in a media release last week that the purpose of the rally “is to make it very clear to the governor and to legislative leaders that hasty laws that infringe on the rights of law-abiding firearm owners will not be tolerated.”
“So until concessions and amendments are made to this law, this issue isn’t going away and neither are the people who are sensitive to it,” he added.
Assemblyman Bill Magee, D-Nelson, said he won’t be attending the demonstration, but agrees with its aims.
“The definition some of the guns they’re calling assault weapons are, in fact, used by sportsmen,” Magee said. “The public had no opportunity to view it. As a matter of fact, members didn’t either.”
Assemblyman Pete Lopez, R-Schoharie, said he would attend, depending on Assembly business today.
Elected officials aren’t the only locals who will be expressing opposition to the law today. Jim Losie, of Losie’s Gun Shop in Oneonta, has been setting up bus trips to the rally.
“Right now, we’ve got three full buses (and) we’re working on a fourth,” he said Tuesday.
Mike Mayhood, of Mayhood’s Sporting Goods in Norwich, said he, too, had signed up people to ride a bus out of Oxford.
“We have more than we can get on the bus,” he said.
Mayhood said he was sending latecomers to Oneonta and Binghamton to find bus rides.