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Sun., Oct. 4
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Gun-rights activists rally in Gouverneur


GOUVERNEUR — Self-proclaimed criminals packed VFW Post 6338, 100 W. Main St., Saturday afternoon to take aim against the NYSAFE Act gun control law.

Members of the crowd stood in unison to make clear they are not complying with the “un-SAFE Act.”

“I’m a criminal,” said Melody Burns, the main speaker at the rally. “Stand up with us if the un-SAFE Act makes you a criminal, too.”

Ms. Burns, who hosts the conservative radio talk show “The Melody Burns Show” in Albany, collected $10 from every speaker at the rally for every time he or she said “SAFE Act” instead of “un-SAFE Act,” and the money was donated to veterans.

The two-hour rally, which began at noon, commenced with cannon fire to commemorate the anniversary of the “Shot Heard Around the World” at the Battle of Lexington and Concord during the Revolutionary War.

April 19, 1775, is recorded as the day of that war’s first gunfire.

Saturday’s rally was organized by the Shooters Committee on Political Education (SCOPE), an organization that opposes the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act. which became state law in 2013.

Stephen J. Aldstadt, president of SCOPE, said a similar event was held in Gouverneur last year. “It started out as a demonstration for legal gun owners who are being targeted by the SAFE Act,” he said. “It was a way for people to get out and make a statement.” And now, he said, it’s also “a commemoration of that event when our nation was founded and our patriots stood up and fought for liberty.”

At Saturday’s gathering, hats came off for the Pledge of Allegiance and heads bowed for a prayer before people made their way inside for the rally. Shirts, hats and signs promoted the National Rifle Association, Northern New York Freedom Fighters and the anti-SAFE Act movement.

Voting was a major theme of the rally. Each person in the standing-room-only crowd was given a paper with a voter’s pledge on it, to register to vote and to vote for candidates who oppose the SAFE Act. Voter registration forms were available.

“For too long, people from upstate, gun owners in particular, have been told that their vote doesn’t count and that New York City has the power to do whatever they want regardless of what the people of Upstate New York do,” Mr. Aldstadt said. “And that’s not really true.”

Mr. Aldstadt said there are more than 6 million gun owners in the state, and SCOPE’s mission is educate them about the SAFE Act and persuade them to vote for political candidates who want to repeal it.

“We are not a minority,” he said. “Sadly, in the past, too few of us have actually registered and got out to vote and that’s why we’re not only asking the candidates who are running for office to make a pledge to support the Second Amendment and to repeal the SAFE Act, but we’re also asking voters to take responsibility , register to vote and vote for candidates who support the Constitution of the United States.”

Assemblyman Kenneth D. Blankenbush, R-Black River, spoke to the crowd about gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino, Westchester County executive, and encouraged people to vote for him.

“When he tells you he will repeal the un-SAFE Act, he will do that if we get him into office,” Mr. Blankenbush said.

Ms. Burns said that regardless of party affiliations, voting for candidates against the SAFE Act is essential for all gun owners.

“The only thing these people understand is November,” she said. “Party lines don’t matter in this fight.”

Lewis County Sheriff Michael P. Carpinelli spoke about his disappointment in Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and other politicians who established the SAFE Act.

“When are all of our damn politicians in Washington going to wake up and realize — enough?” he said. “The governor has made a serious issue, not just in this state, but in the country, to take away our rights to defend ourselves, to defend my little daughter, to defend my wife, to defend your family. Shame on him.”

Other speakers called Gov. Cuomo names such as “tyrant” and “czar,” and some members of the crowd chanted “Cuomo’s got to go.”

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