200 turn out to support gun shop owner, protest SAFE Act
ALBION – About 200 people attended a rally outside the Albion Gun Shop this evening with the group vocal in denouncing Gov. Andrew Cuomo and calling for him to be ousted from office in this election.
The gun owners were urged to register to vote and cast their ballots on Nov. 4. Mattie Zarpentine, a regional coordinator for the New York Revolution, said only 20 percent of gun owners vote. But if they go to the polls in droves, Zarpentine said they can more than offset the votes from New York City, which tend to go to Cuomo and other Democratic Party candidates.
“We could outvote New York City if we support Constitutionally minded candidates,” Zarpentine told a crowd gathered on a closed-off Hamilton Street in front of the Albion Gun Shop.
The rally was scheduled after the Albion Gun Shop was visited by the State Police in late August and told to turn over its records of customers who purchased an AR-15 gun with a bullet button feature. Police contended that feature violated the spirit of the SAFE Act, a controversial gun control measure passed in January 2013.
Joe Palumbo, owner of the gun shop, reluctantly turned over the names of 164 customers who bought the gun since the SAFE Act was passed. He also has been filling the bullet buttons with epoxy, which police say will now meet the SAFE Act standards.
He thanked his customers and many supporters in pro-gun groups for backing him and his business since news broke about his customer records being turned over to the State Police. Palumbo said he was advised by his attorney not to say too much because of potential litgation with the issue.
His attorney, James D. Tresmond of Buffalo, released a statement that was read by Steve Aldstadt, state president of SCOPE, the Shooters Committee on Political Education. Tresmond has already filed several lawsuits challenging the SAFE Act. He contends the law is unconstitutional with “arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement.”
Tresmond said the “prospects look good” in court for the SAFE Act challenges.
“We have only begun to fight,” he said in his statement.
SCOPE is funding some of the court fights, and the organization also is promoting gun owners to vote, especially on Nov. 4, Alstadt said.
“That will be New York’s recall election,” he said.
Joe Mesler is president of the Second Amendment Coalition in Western New York, a group that formed five days after the SAFE Act passed. Mesler said he fears the governor and State Legislature will continue to infringe on gun owners’ rights.
He urged the group to be ever vigilant with their state elected officials. He urged them to go to Albany, attend local functions by state legislators and ask them a lot of questions – while demanding answers.
Many of the state legislators in WNY are Republicans who voted against the SAFE Act. But Mesler said most of them have backed provisions in the state budget for enforcing the SAFE Act. He has challenged legislators for supporting state funds to enforce unconstitutional laws.
State Assemblyman Steve Hawley said he wants to repeal the SAFE Act but downstate legislators won’t let that legislation come to a vote. Hawley favors dividing Upstate New York from New York City, creating two separate states.
Hawley said the SAFE Act was passed near midnight without a proper vetting from the Legislature and the public.
The law has numerous gray areas and was poorly crafted, Hawley said. He faulted Cuomo and the majority of the Legislature for hastily approving the legislation after a school shooting in Connecticut. Cuomo played on the emotions of the public, Hawley said.
“Shame on you, governor,” Hawley said.
Ortt is running for State Senate in the 62nd District, in the spot currently held by George Maziarz, who isn’t seeking re-election. Ortt, the North Tonawanda mayor, served a tour of duty in Afghanistan. He said he will work to repeal the SAFE Act.
He worries that the State Senate, the remaining legislative body with a Republican majority, could be overtaken by Democrats. That would give that downstate-dominated party full control of the Legislature and perhaps the governor’s office. If that happens, Ortt said more freedoms could be lost to an overzealous Legislature and governor.
Another candidate for the State Legislature, Mark Glogowski of Hamlin, is running as a Libertarian against Steve Hawley. Glogowski said he favors less intrusive gun laws. He doesn’t think guns should be registered. If voters gave strong support to a Libertarian candidate it would send “shock waves” to Albany, Glogowski said.
“How about making a statement with your vote?” he said.
“I’m against the SAFE Act,” he said. “On Election Day I will be voting against Gov. Cuomo and I hope the rest of New York State does as well. No one has the right to take away those freedoms.”