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Gun owners heading to Albany

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North country gun owners unhappy with provisions in the NY SAFE Act and the way the legislation was passed are organizing carpools and buses to go to Albany on Feb. 28 for a rally and lobby day sponsored by the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association and Shooters Committee on Political Education.

“I’m just a gun owner who feels like I’ve had enough. We’re not going down to be rabble rousers. This is the American way of doing things. The last thing we want to do is turn this into a stereotype. We’re God-fearing, law-abiding citizens,” said Lawrence I. Kring, a retired state Department of Environmental Conservation lieutenant. “If it’s a law people want, you can bring it out in the daytime. If you know it’s not going to fly, this is the way you do it, in the middle of the night.”

Opponents have criticized the law’s swift passage without public hearings and various provisions they find onerous. The law reclassifies many firearms as assault weapons, requires frequent permit recertifications and cuts the number of legal rounds in a firearm.

While applauding some aspects of the law it finds helpful, the state Sheriffs Association has called for modifications to meet its concerns and those of the public.

The Lewis County legislators passed a resolution calling on the state to annul the statute and Jefferson County lawmakers are considering similar action. The St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators also may have a response.

“I think it’s got to be discussed sometime,” said Legislator Donald A. Peck, R-Gouverneur. “It’s something that does need some attention.”

Gun owners from across the state are expected to descend on Albany to voice their opposition from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Feb. 28 at the Well of the Legislative Office Building. After the rally, constituents may talk with individual legislators.

“We decided to go ahead and fill a bus,” said Glenn D. Hancock, Adams, who is working to get the word out in Jefferson County through its sportsmen’s clubs. Mr. Hancock can be contacted at glennhancock@hotmail.com, 408-7340. Other busloads are expected from Lowville and Oswego County.

St. Lawrence County residents can attend an organizational breakfast from 7 to 11 a.m. Sunday at the Amvets in Ogdensburg to sign up for a bus or donate money to the cause. They may contact Mr. Kring at kring630@yahoo.com or 323-2107 in the Ogdensburg area or Joel J. LaPierre at jjlapierre29@gmail.com or 486-2909 in Gouverneur.

Mr. LaPierre said he appreciated the law’s provisions that pertain to mental health and enhance penalties for killing emergency first responders, but those related to firearms are an over-reach.

“All the gun stuff connected to it is ridiculous. It doesn’t make any of us safer. I guess we just feel it’s an infringement of our rights,” he said. “We had 20, 30 people right off the bat who wanted to go down. Right now, we have one bus going.”

Mr. Kring said his primary objection was to the murkiness surrounding ammunition sales and the requirement of a five-year recertification of pistol permit status.

“It’ll be an expense and the state can’t afford it. I can see them charging per gun,” he said. “It’s going to lead to a tax. It’s a back-door way of taking guns away.”

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