More than a thousand Western New Yorkers angered by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s sweeping gun-control law are boarding buses this morning to take part in a massive gun rights rally in Albany.
“This is such a rotten bill that so many are offended by it,” said Harold W. “Budd” Schroeder, of Lancaster, chairman of the Shooters Committee on Political Education, or SCOPE. The Buffalo-based group chartered five buses to ferry its members and supporters to the demonstration.
“They’re afraid of it,” Schroeder said. “It takes away their freedoms, … and it does absolutely nothing to stop gun violence.”
Leaders of area hunting groups and gun rights organizations say they believe that about 20 buses, which can hold up to about 56 people each, will be headed to Albany for the rally from Erie County alone. At least a half-dozen more buses are leaving from other counties in Western New York.
The protest, to be held on the steps of the Capitol, is being organized by the New York Rifle & Pistol Association, the state affiliate of the National Rifle Association, whose president is among those scheduled to speak.
Thomas King, president of the New York Rifle & Pistol Association and a board member of the NRA, said that as many as 10,000 people are expected to show up to voice their opposition to the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act.
“The SAFE Act has awoken the sleeping giant, is what it’s done,” King said. “I have never seen the people of New York as incensed as they are over this issue.”
Erie and Niagara counties are among 26 in the state that have passed resolutions calling for the repeal of the SAFE Act.
Only four legislators from the Buffalo Niagara region voted in favor of the law.
The SAFE Act, signed into law by Cuomo on Jan. 15, includes provisions such as broadening the state’s ban on military-style weapons, limiting the number of rounds in a magazine and setting up a universal background check system.
Opponents say that it is unconstitutional and was jammed through the state’s legislative process without time for proper public input.
King said his organization is getting ready to file a lawsuit against the State of New York in the next few days, following a class-action suit that Hamburg attorney James D. Tresmond filed last month in State Supreme Court.
Rich Davenport, recording secretary of the Erie County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, said his group had initially planned to charter one bus.“And then it was two, and then it was three. Then it was four. Then we had another meeting, and we went ahead and said: Let’s go with five and put six on standby,” Davenport said. That sixth bus was full by Wednesday morning.
David N. Rickard, spokesman for the Second Amendment Coalition of WNY, said his group has a busload going. Repeal of the law is unlikely, many people acknowledge, is unlikely. “Gov. Cuomo could veto it,” he said. “I think the only chance it has of going away is through the judicial process.”
The rally, he said, is “simply the beginning.”