JOHNSTOWN - The Pine Tree Rifle Club was filled to capacity Monday night, with more than 300 individuals packed into the hall to speak out against the New York SAFE Act.
Assemblyman Marc Butler was on hand to answer questions. Butler characterized the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act as a law that was rammed through the Legislature. He said on the day the law was to be voted on, he met with representatives from Remington Arms, a gun manufacturing firm with factories in upstate New York. Butler said at the time of the meeting, at 3 p.m., he could not possibly explain the bill to his constituents, since the bill was still in its "beginning phases." The bill was voted on by the State Senate that very night, he said, after only four hours of debate.
"Many of the issues we raised we didn't receive the correct answers to, such as exemptions for police, which isn't happening," Butler said.
Assemblyman Marc Butler speaks to a packed house at the Pine Tree Rifle Club in Johnstown on Monday. Butler talked about the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, which many in the crowd said violated their Second Amendment rights.
The Leader-Herald/Arthur Cleveland
According to Butler, the law expands the definition of an assault weapon to include more types of firearms, many of which were made illegal over night. The law requires the ban on all sales of current assault weapons, and all guns that were purchased prior to the law have to be registered with the state by January 2014.
Butler said that to even make the law feasible, some Democrats said they would need to amend the bill several times to better define the law.
Butler said the reason for the bill's hasty preparation and implementation was due to the political will of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
"This governor wanted to be the first one in the nation to pass a gun law, and because of that we are left with this badly flawed gun bill that does a lot of bad things and has a lot of unintended consequences," Butler said.
New York State Rifle and Pistol Association President Tom King, who also serves as part of the National Rifle Association's Board of Directors, said that a lawsuit is currently in the works, with legal briefs to be released in the coming days, against the SAFE act.
King said they are trying to bring as powerful of a case against Cuomo, saying they will bring this all the way to the Supreme Court.
"This will be a landmark case," King said.
King, who drove up from Albany, or as he called it, "Moscow on the Hudson", said that the bill had dropped Cuomo's approval rating down to 12 percent.
"The SAFE act is anything but safe," King said.
King said while the crowd may follow gun laws, criminals would not be throwing away a 15-round magazine, and that stronger prosecution would be a safer path than outlawing certain types of firearms.
King said the New York Times reported a few years ago that over 1,900 gun possession charges were filed in New York City, but only around 300 were prosecuted.
"That's absurd. That's obscene, not absurd," King said.
King said he fears this bill may have emboldened gun control advocates.
"This is the beginning, but we are in for one heck of a ride in the coming months," King said.
Preston Amerman, from Salisbury, implied the SAFE Act was based on an erroneous reading of the Second Amendment.
"Nowhere in the Second Amendment is the word hunting, deer or sport," he said. "Federalist paper No. 29 states the gun is put in the hand of the citizen for protection of hearth and home from tyranny."