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Sportsmen needed more than ever

The shooting incidents in Tucson, Ariz., as with all other mass firearms assaults, bring out the worst in behavior and human suffering.

Political considerations and gun-law regulations aside, the killings and injuries affected officials of both major political parties and persons young and elderly in their devastation.

One deranged killer in states such as Colorado, Virginia, and now Arizona have gun-controlling gurus readying to add more laws, rules, regulations and restrictions on the rights of law-abiding gun owners.

With or without a mass-murder headliner in the news, anti-gun factions continuously strive to restrict and eliminate citizens' rights to keep and bear arms in every state and in national legislatures.

Tens of thousands of responsible gun owners in New York State and millions across the country suffer each time one disturbed person shoots innocent victims.

New York State's hunters, gun owners (shooters and collectors), and all sportsmen involved in shooting-sports concerns have an opportunity to let legislators in Albany know about the number and interests of good guys (men, women and youths) across New York State.

SCOPE (Shooter Committee on Political Education) and other gun-rights groups statewide will sponsor bus trips to Albany on Jan. 25 for a Second Annual Sportsmen & Outdoor Recreation Legislative Awareness Day gathering.

Stephen J. Aldstadt of Orchard Park serves as statewide president of SCOPE and recently stepped down as president of the Erie County Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs. Aldstadt will be a featured speaker and join with Tom King, NYS Rifle and Pistol Association; James Rabbia, Remington Arms; William Schwerd, 4-H Shooting Sport, and other guest speakers.

Wayne LaPierre had been slated as keynote speaker. LaPierre spoke to a crowd of more than 2,500 in the Albany Legislative Office Building during the first awareness day held Jan. 12, 2010, citing many inequities anti-gun factions pose on legitimate firearms owners.

Travel planning has LaPierre away during the Albany Awareness Day. Chuck Cunningham, NRA director of Federal Affairs, will serve as keynote speaker. Cunningham, a low-key, savvy pro-gun lobbyist, will clearly explain positive directions for gun owners in this state and across the country.

Aldstadt said, "In light of the Arizona tragedy this gathering will have even more importance for this state's gun owners."

Along with highlighting Second Amendment features, his talk will focus on how that tragedy affects us all.

"[Gun killings] lead to scapegoating for the political exploitation of law-abiding citizens," Aldstadt noted.

To counter anti-gun legislative proposals, pro-gun organizations need the support of stakeholders in ranks of hunters, shooters, gun collectors, and all who value individual gun ownership.

Groups from around the state are reserving buses to bring all sportsmen -- not just affiliated club members -- to Albany on Jan. 25. The Erie County Chapter of SCOPE will have a bus departing from Southgate Plaza at 4 a.m. that day. Gerry Cumbo, Erie County chairman, has one bus half filled and can make arrangements for more sportsmen from Erie, Chautauqua, and other nearby counties. For trip arrangements, call Cumbo at 983-1629.

During the Genesee County Chapter of SCOPE meeting at Calvary Baptist Church in Batavia on Tuesday evening, Jack Taylor was confirmed as chapter chairman and Dave Kaufmann as secretary/treasurer.

The chapter voted for sponsoring a bus to Albany. Attendees can board at Batavia Marine and Sporting Goods or at Sheards Gun Shop in Bergen. For trip details on the Genesee bus, check with Dave Kaufman at (585) 494-2314.

The Central and WNY Chapter of Safari Club International sent a bus during the 2010 Awareness Day. This year, a national SCI conference in Reno canceled an Albany bus trip. However, sportsmen from this and all other clubs are encouraged to get to Albany and help to exceed the 2,500 attendees gathered last year.

Sporting, shooting, hunting, and outdoors-related groups will have information booths set up around the Legislative Office Building hallways and sportsmen will have the chance to learn more about outdoors organizations and have the opportunity to show legislators that gun owners are responsible, respectable taxpayers.

e-mail: odrswill@gmail.com

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