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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 law and the way the legislation was passed are organizing carpools and buses to go to Albany Feb. 28 for a rally and lobby day sponsored by 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 swift passage of the law 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 may also have a response.

“I think it’s got to be discussed some time,” Legislator Donald A. Peck, R-Gouverneur, said. “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 a.m. Feb. 28 at the Well of the Legislative Office Building. After the rally, constituents may talk with individual legislators.

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, kring630@yahoo.com, 323-2107, in the Ogdensburg area, or Joel J. LaPierre, jjlapierre29@gmail.com, 486-2909 in Gouverneur.

Mr. LaPierre said he appreciated the law’s provisions that pertain to mental health and that the killing of emergency first responders would have enhanced penalties but that 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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