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Gun-rights activists head to the Capitol to protest the New York SAFE Act

by Molly Eadie on February 13, 2013

Deneed Borelli spoke in opposition of the NY SAFE Act at a rally on Tuesday. Photo by Molly Eadie.

“Gov. Cuomo says, ‘Well, they’ll feel better after they read the law and they understand it,’” said Terry Bernardo, Ulster County chairwoman. “Do you feel better now that you’ve read it?”

The crowd, gathered at the Capitol in Albany, shouted, “No,” and chanted, “Cuomo’s got to go!”

Gun-rights activists from across the state arrived in Albany on Tuesday (Feb. 12) to rally against Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act and to lobby their legislators for its repeal. The SAFE Act decreases the amount of rounds allowed in a magazine from 10 to seven, outlines a stricter definition of assault weapons, and bans the ownership of them. Assault weapons possessed before the effective date must be registered within a year, and recertified every five years. Mental health professionals will be required to report to officials when there is reason to believe a patient might seriously harm themselves or others.

Bob Schulz, of Queensbury, put together a complaint against the bill and said it violated New York’s “three-day rule,” or article 3, section 14 of the New York State Constitution, which requires a bill to be on legislators’ desks for three days before its passage. Schulz maintained that Cuomo used a “message of necessity,” which is intended in a situations where the Legislature is about to adjourn for the year and a budget needs to be passed, or if there is a need to rush legislation such as in an attack or emergency.

“Here, in his message of necessity, he said this: ‘This bill, if enacted, will immediately ban the ownership of assault weapons,’” said Schulz. “That is not true. The bill has 56 operative sections, 53 of them take effect in 60 days, two provisions take effect in one year, and the provision that requires me to register my now-assault weapon, as it’s been defined, the law says I can’t register before April 15 this year, and have until April 15 next year. So what’s the rush?”

More than 1,000 plaintiffs have joined the lawsuit, some signed on at Tuesday’s rally. The plaintiffs in the action will represent themselves. Schulz is not an attorney but has drawn on his experience with the Tri-County and All-County Taxpayers Associations, where he filed petitions and lawsuits against the governor, state Legislature, and other authorities and officials. Shultz claimed that in 1990 and again in 1995, he filed and won two lawsuits against Gov. Mario Cuomo for using public funds for election materials. “We do the best we can, and I can read and comprehend the law,” said Schulz. “Liberty is my passion and it’s a very powerful engine. The constitution doesn’t defend itself, it just sits on your desk.”

While Schulz was signing up plaintiffs at the rally for his case against the younger Cuomo, speakers including Carl Paladino, Sen. Greg Ball (R-Patterson Putnam), Sen. Kathy Marchione (R- Halfmoon), Deneed Borelli and other supporters spoke to American-flag-laced crowd.

“Because here in Albany we are on the front lines of fighting tyranny in our own state,” said Borelli, of Eastchester. “Our state legislature is filled with drones blindly following Cuomo’s assault on our liberty. . . . Cuomo’s mockery of representative government must warm the hearts of Vladimir Putin and Hugo Chavez.”

“We had the legislation on our desk for less than 20 minutes. I stood up and said, ‘The process is bad, we’re not listening to anyone,’”said Marchione in her speech.

“I feel like women don’t understand the Second Amendment and why it was put into place,” said Donna Greco of Saugerties. “And I think they’re too focused on thinking people with guns are going to kill people, because that’s not necessarily true.” Greco is working on putting together a group for women interested in this issue, that would be based in Ulster County but open to anyone.

She said that guns are useful protection for women to keep in the home. “I was once a victim of a violent crime, and I will never be a victim of a violent crime again,” she added.

This rally was the second one held at the Capitol by those opposing the New York SAFE Act since the law was signed on Jan. 15, 2012.