Gun-rights advocates rallied outside the state Capitol today to protest the state’s new gun-control law passed by the Legislature on Tuesday.
The measure is the first and toughest law in the nation since the Newtown. Conn., school shootings last month. Cuomo and supporters have hailed the law as a critical step toward curbing gun violence in the state and nation.
Gun owners, however, said they are being unfairly targeted by the new law and were dismayed by the quick passage of it by lawmakers. The bill was adopted hours after it was printed.
“If they want to do something, then give it the people. If they want to do a referendum on casinos, why don’t they do one on gun control?” said Paul Jameson, 54, Saugerties, Ulster County. “This is absolutely crazy the way the governor has done this. It borders on illegal, and it takes away our rights.”
Other accused the Democratic governor of pushing for the law so he could build his national profile. He is considered a potential presidential candidate in 2016.
“We elected them to serve us. They are serving themselves,” said Eli Noseworthy, 69, of Long Island. “The governor is concerning himself with his aspirations to run for president, and that’s not right.”
The National Rifle Association has protested the new law, and lawsuits are expected against the state.
The rally was part of a national effort Saturday called Guns Across America and included rallies at state capitals to protest new laws and legislation.
“I don’t feel like I’m a criminal. In order to keep order, we need good guys with guns,” said Heather Johnson, 36, of Kirkville, Onondaga County.
Cuomo on Saturday said the law would save lives. A Siena College poll Thursday showed wide support for the governor and the gun-control measures.
The law puts a tighter ban on assault weapons and lowers the number of bullets allowed in a magazine from 10 to seven. It adds more stringent regulations on gun permitting and expands background checks for pistol sales.
Assemblyman James Tedisco, R-Schenectady, spoke at the rally and said he agreed with the crowd’s concerns. But he cautioned that their anger should be used in productive ways. He led a moment of silence for the victims of recent shootings.
“You and I who are the honest, law-abiding citizens and gun owners cannot turn that into bitterness, hatred,” said Tedisco, who is in the video below. “We’re going to be angry, but you have to turn that anger into something positive.”