The executive director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence is trying to stop Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-Hudson, from succeeding Hillary Rodham Clinton as New York's junior senator.
With Clinton's confirmation as secretary of state Wednesday and subsequent resignation from the Senate, Gov. David Paterson is expected to appoint someone soon to serve until a special election in 2010.
Gillibrand, 42, a former securities attorney who represents the 20th Congressional District, is among more than a dozen people interviewed by the governor.
It was unclear Wednesday night whether the frontrunner, Caroline Kennedy, was still in contention. Earlier reports of her dropping out were contradicted by an Associated Press report late Wednesday night.
A recent Quinnipiac University poll showed another prospective senator, state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, with more public support than his rivals.
However, Gillibrand, a strong supporter of Second Amendment rights, is still on the radar screen, and that worries Jackie Hilly, NYAGV's executive director.
``I don't think she represents most New Yorkers on gun-control issues,'' Hilly said Wednesday.
Gillibrand, a Democrat who easily won a second term last year, has received an ``A'' rating from the National Rifle Association, which opposes many gun-control measures. Hilly said the rating shows Gillibrand is out of step with most New Yorkers.
In December, she asked NYAGV's members to write to Paterson, asking that he not elevate Gillibrand.
As Gillibrand's stock continued to rise last week, Hilly again rallied the group to lobby the governor.
``Appoint someone else,'' she said Wednesday.
On Gillibrand's website, the congresswoman addresses gun issues by stating, ``I, like many natives of upstate New York, grew up in a hunting family and own a gun. I learned at an early age how to safely handle a gun and I believe that every law-abiding citizen should always have the right to own arms.
``The Second Amendment of the Constitution prohibits the federal government from denying law-abiding citizens the right to keep and bear arms. And I intend to uphold this right through my votes and actions in Congress.
``However, I also believe that we must do more to enforce current laws to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and persons with violent mental instability," her statement continues. "Keeping our streets and communities safe is important to all of us, and lawbreakers need to know that they will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law if they illegally seek to own or possess weapons.
``That is why I supported the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Improvement Act (HR 2640) to provide incentives to states to update the Brady background check system to ensure that current laws are upheld as efficiently as possible," the statement continues. "This was a common sense-bipartisan bill that was supported by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.''
Hilly said millions of illegal guns are circulating, and Gillibrand should support federal measures to make sure that criminals cannot buy guns at gun shows. She also said that employees at gun shows should be checked more closely.
As a senator, Gillibrand might be swayed by the NRA and not advance the gun-control agenda, she said.
In response to this, Rachel McEneny, Gillibrand's spokeswoman, said by e-mail: ``She is entitled to her view, but Congresswoman Gillibrand is a leader in Congress on reform and transparency issues and is certainly in no one's pocket.''
The governor's office did not return a telephoned request for comment Wednesday.