‘Stick to your guns’

SARANAC LAKE – A crowd of about 70 people attended a gun rights rally Sunday afternoon on the steps of the Harrietstown Town Hall.

The peaceful, hour-long demonstration organized by the Sons and Daughters of Liberty featured a series of speakers who urged the audience to stand up and protect their Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms. Similar rallies have been held across the state since mid January, when Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013.

“Today I woke up with a thirst for liberty,” co-organizer Ken Kunath of Saranac Lake told the crowd. “Today we gather in unity with our brothers and sisters all across this state, who today have an appetite for repeal of New York’s recent SAFE Act. We stand in protest against our elected lawmakers who chose to infringe upon the Second Amendment right and silence the drums of liberty in New York state. I pray everyone remembers them in election time because they have deserted you.”

Rally co-organizer Chris Barney of Lake Placid said the SAFE Act made many gun owners “criminals, without a crime being committed.

“You have the right to speak; you have the right to be heard,” Barney said. “What’s on everybody’s minds today? Gun control, gun control. It’s not gun control; it’s governor control. Hold him accountable for what he’s done.”

Barney urged rally attendees to contact their legislators and express their displeasure with Cuomo.

“We have to move from county to county,” he said. “We have to give people our help trying to find the direction they need to go in. This is not about gun control. This is about the Constitution. This is about your constitutional rights. Stick to your guns!”

“The SAFE Act is wrong,” said another speaker, Ed Martin of Vermontville. “Basically, from Obama down to Cuomo to everybody that voted for this bill, you can kiss my clips. We will continue this, and we will take it probably all the way to the Supreme Court.”

Two elected officials spoke during the rally. Town of Franklin Supervisor Art Willman said people sometimes ask gun owners why they need large-capacity magazines and semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15.

“The answer there is, it’s really none of your business,” he said. “The Second Amendment does not tell us which arms we could own, how many bullets we get in our guns and all that other baloney. It’s the Bill of Rights, not the bill of needs.

“We need to be active, in touch, attentive, engaged and involve our politicians, whether it’s from dog catcher to the president of the United States. Email them, write them, and phone them. Talk to them in person if you can. We need to make our presence known and our pressure felt.”

Franklin County Legislator Marc “Tim” Lashomb of Malone noted that his board had unanimously passed a resolution opposing the SAFE Act on Thursday, drawing a round of applause and cheers from the crowd.

“I think it’s time to send a message to some of our elected officials in Albany, that they forgot the understanding of ‘of the people, by the people and for the people,’ Lashomb said. “I think it’s time to draw the line in the sand and say the law may be bad, but more importantly, we cannot tolerate the manner in which the law was passed.”

Kunath said he was disappointed that more people didn’t attend the rally, but he said he was proud of those who did show up.