ALBANY – As gun-rights and gun-control groups continue to argue over the effects of the New York SAFE Act, one consequence is clear: Membership in the state affiliate of the National Rifle Association has soared since the law was enacted a year ago.
Tom King, president of the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, said the NRA headquarters in Washington recently informed him his state affiliate has now surpassed Texas and California to become the largest state chapter in the nation.
The NRA affiliate saw its membership rise from 22,000 statewide to 41,000 since the SAFE Act was approved in January 2013, King said.
While he said his group has had regular membership growth over the years, “It has grown exponentially faster than it ever has before, and it can only be attributed to the SAFE Act,’’ he said.
“I think it sends a message to all the anti-gun politicians, all the politicians sitting on the fence, that yes, if they thought that we were quiet and this was going to go away without anyone paying any more attention to it, they were just flat-out wrong,’’ King said Monday.
In addition, King said members and nonmembers have donated $200,000 to his organization in the past year to help fund its legal challenge to the gun-control law that was proposed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in the aftermath of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Individual membership in the NRA affiliate in New York costs $25 a year.
“The Second Amendment is alive and well in New York State.’’ King said. He said the growth has come from all geographic areas of New York.
“I think it’s their way of saying, ‘We’re here, we’re growing, and we’re not going to give up on this fight,’ ’’ he said of the new membership growth. “And if I were some of these New York State Republican senators who voted for this and haven’t done anything about it since, I’d be worried because there’s a lot of angst out there, and it’s all pointed at them,’’ King said.