ALBANY – Thousands of gun rights advocates rallied outside the Capitol this afternoon in a gathering that featured speakers such as Donald Trump and Rob Astorino, the Republican Party gubernatorial hopeful.
The protestors, state police estimated their numbers at 3,500, called for repeal of the New York SAFE Act that cracked down on sale assault-style weapons and creates a state database for every bullet sold in New York.
Part celebration of the Second Amendment, the gathering – between the signs, speeches and shout-outs by the crowd – became anti-Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
Trump spoke briefly and ignored comments by Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino that the billionaire should still consider running for governor as a Republican. Trump recently ended that talk, saying the GOP did not give him a clear shot at the campaign with no party primary.
Soon after leaving, Trump flew over the crowd in his black Sikorsky S-76B corporate chopper past Albany’s largest office tower at the downtown state complex; the letters “TRUMP” were painted on the craft’s tail.
For Astorino, the Westchester county executive, the event gave him his largest venue yet to promote his GOP candidacy. He asked the crowd to register to vote, urged them to tell their hunting buddies about him, suggested they sign up on his social media sites and requested they donate to his campaign. He told them the SAFE Act needs to be repealed.
The governor “took away your rights. You take away his job,” Astorino told the crowd gathered around the state’s Cultural Education Center down a plaza from the Capitol.
While a recent poll by Siena College found 63 percent of registered voters in New York support the SAFE Act, the issue still has elicited major opposition.
Once a law is passed, critics and advocates usually part ways. But gun rights advocates have kept up a steady drumbeat of protest against the law, with ongoing rallies, lawn sign campaigns, a lawsuit and vows by some leaders of the groups to target Republicans who voted for the law in this year’s elections.