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NY21 Republicans attend Albany anti-SAFE Act rally; Democratic candidate wants seat at the table for gun owners

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WATERTOWN — The three Republican candidates for New York’s 21st Congressional District were in Albany Tuesday to attend a rally protesting the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013.

Elise M. Stefanik, Willsboro; Matthew A. Doheny, Watertown, and Joseph M. Gilbert, DeKalb Junction, were all at the event, which featured speakers such as real estate mogul Donald Trump, political activist Carl P. Paladino and Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino.

Though the SAFE Act is a state law, the candidates mixed a little campaigning with their dissension and were quick to connect the controversial legislation to the Second Amendment.

Mr. Gilbert said he was attending the rally as a private citizen and as a candidate, but “mostly as a private citizen.”

Mr. Gilbert spoke about the incorporation of the Bill of Rights, a measure that would make its provisions binding in all states, and said the matter would be decided by the Supreme Court.

Mr. Gilbert said the rally was well attended but “should be bigger.”

“I wish more people would pay attention to what’s going on,” Mr. Gilbert said. “I know people have to work and I can appreciate that ... but more people need to pay more attention to what’s going on in this country and New York, and if they did, they would be outraged.”

Ms. Stefanik said in an email she attended the event to support Second Amendment advocates and SAFE Act protesters whom she has met on her campaign in the past year. Ms. Stefanik also said she would take a strong stand on the issue as a candidate.

“The 2nd Amendment is a Constitutional issue for every American,” she said. “Our next member of Congress will take an oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution and the rights it protects,” she said in the email.

Mr. Doheny said he did not run into either of his opponents, but was “inspired” by the rally.

“Obviously, I am a candidate, but this goes beyond campaigning to basic constitutional freedoms,” Mr. Doheny said. “This is one step on a longer liberal agenda to take guns out of the hands of citizens.”

“Certainly all elected officials at all levels need to weigh in,” he said.

Aaron Woolf, the candidate named by Democratic Committee chairpersons across the district, said he did not support the SAFE Act, but he did not attend Tuesday’s rally.

“I lament the entrenchment,” Mr. Woolf said. “I feel like gun owners are among the most concerned citizens I know about gun violence, and that they want and deserve a seat at the table to find solutions.”

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