As the state Assembly gets set this morning to approve the toughest gun-control laws in the country, there are questions about the lack of influence and pressure from gun-rights groups to beat back the measures.
Thomas King, the president of the state’s Rifle and Pistol Association, said today he didn’t see the value in having a massive protest in advance of the vote. In 2011, protestors for and against same-sex marriage filled the Capitol hallways for a week before the vote. The measure ultimately passed.
“Let me tell you something about rallies. Rallies work when they are Democratic groups that are putting it on and they bring 50,000 people up here,” King said on 1300-AM (WGDJ) in Albany. He added that, “Most of our people won’t do it.”
The show’s host, Paul Vandenburgh, told King, “You gotten taken to the woodshed on this bill.” Vandenburgh said the bill should have meant “should have meant a lot of people in this town.”
There were about three dozen employees of Remington Arms, based in Herkimer County, were outside the Senate chambers yesterday.
King said he hasn’t spoken to Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County. The group holds a major rally each year at the Capitol, drawing more than 3,000 people.
“Skelos has not talked to us. We used to talk to Skelos all the time. He has not answered a phone call,” King said.
Speaking on the Vandenburgh show, Albany-area gun-store owner Brian Oleson said the anger should be directed at Democratic political leaders.
“Let’s get mad at the people who did this. Let’s get mad at the governor, let’s get mad at Shelly Silver, let’s get mad at Mr. Schumer,” he said. “Let’s get mad at the right people, here.”
The gun lobby has been active in New York, but their support to lawmakers hasn’t been overwhelming.
The gun lobby in New York doled out about $122,000 in campaign contributions over the past two years, a review by the New York Public Interest Research Group found last month.
The money went largely to Senate Republicans, including $27,500 to the Senate Republican Campaign Committee and $10,000 to Senate Deputy Majority Leader Thomas Libous, R-Binghamton, NYPIRG said. The donations represented a small amount of the total that lobbying firms in New York contributed to campaigns in 2011, NYPIRG found in a separate report last June. The firms donated $1.8 million to campaigns, the group said in its report.
Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee, D-Suffern in Rockland County, said a quick vote was prudent, saying she was concerned that a delay could lead to less stringent regulations.
“I’m concerned that the anti-gun-safety lobbyists would have influence in a way where we would lose the opportunity to move forward with gun safety,” she said.