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New grass-roots group taking aim at NY SAFE Act

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CROGHAN — A new grass-roots organization in the north country is taking aim at the state’s controversial gun control law.

“A lot of people were upset with how it was passed and what’s in it,” Patrick J. Morse, New Bremen, said of the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act.

Rather than accepting their lot, Mr. Morse and several other area residents are forming the North Country Friends of the 2nd Amendment, with an organizational meeting set for 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Croghan fire hall on Fire Hall Street.

Mr. Morse said that he and Croghan resident Charmaine A. Campany helped organize a late-February trip to Albany to rally against the NY SAFE Act, which nearly every county outside the New York City region has opposed.

Three busloads of north country residents, many of them from Lewis County, attended the rally, he said.

“We got their attention,” Mr. Morse said.

However, several local rally attendees felt more should be done to oppose the law, and it eventually was decided that a new organization should be formed for that purpose, he said.

“Everyone agreed it would be the right thing to do,” Mr. Morse said.

The stated purpose of the group is to “form an alliance of like-minded individuals who cherish their individual and collective rights guaranteed under the United States Constitution, most specifically those rights granted under the Second Amendment.” Goals are to both fight the NY SAFE Act and “maintain a steady vigilance” on any similar laws that may be forthcoming.

While organizers hail from Lewis County, Mr. Morse said he is expecting that residents of surrounding counties — including Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Oneida — will attend Tuesday’s meeting and become active members.

He said that while some provisions of the law are good, it was poorly written, and many people were not happy with its rapid passage with no public hearings.

“When we wake up, guns in our cabinets are illegal with no public input,” Mr. Morse said.

A restriction limiting gun magazines to seven rounds also could mean people will “get arrested for counting wrong,” he said.

The organizational meeting will include an informational portion in which provisions of the NY SAFE Act are explained, Mr. Morse said.

“Some people have no clue at all as to what is banned and what is not,” he said.

Group members hope to fight the NY SAFE Act by lobbying elected officials, educating the public, encouraging like-minded people to vote in coming elections and coordinating efforts with other organizations that oppose the law, Mr. Morse said.

They also hope to organize an anti-NY SAFE Act rally in Lewis County and support one slated for April 13 in Gouverneur, he said.

The plan is to form several subcommittees to oversee various aspects of that push.

Anyone seeking more information on the group or the organizational meeting can call Mr. Morse at 317-4380.

Assemblyman Kenneth D. Blankenbush, R-Black River, said that legislation will be introduced soon to rescind the NY SAFE Act, but there is little chance that enough state lawmakers — particularly those from large cities — will switch sides to pass it, let alone override an expected veto by the governor.

“The only way that you’re going to repeal the SAFE Act is through the courts,” Mr. Blankenbush said.

Several lawsuits challenging the act have been filed, including one by the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association.

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