People climbed up the bleachers in the grandstand at the Lewis County Fairgrounds in Lowville on Saturday for a rally opposing the New York SAFE Act. More than 400 people turned out to condemn the controversial package of gun control measures passed by the state Legislature in January.
Politicians and activists, including military veterans and law enforcement, spoke against the law, criticizing both its rapid passage with no public input and the new restrictions and requirements it places on gun owners. By far the most rousing speaker was Karen Bisso, a Plattsburgh educator and 2012 Republican candidate for the 115th state Assembly district. She said elected officials who supported the SAFE Act would feel the consequences at the ballot box.
"We will vote you out! We will vote you out! We will vote you out!," she chanted, with the crowd joining in. "That's correct. And we take back our state, we take back our country, and we defend the Constitution of the United States of America!"
Among the other speakers at the three-hour rally were state Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush, Lewis County Legislator Mike Tabolt and Sheriff Mike Carpinelli. The rally follows others held in Albany and throughout upstate New York since the SAFE Act's passage.
Lowville resident Patrick Morse founded a group called North Country Friends of the Second Amendment, which organized the event.
"This rally is an educational forum," he said. "It's basically to let people know what's in the SAFE Act and what they can do about it. And what they can do about it is, they can vote, they can get their friends to vote, and they can honestly and truthfully educate people what is and what's not in the SAFE Act."
A couple of other like-minded upstate political groups took part in the rally. A few booths offered pamphlets and voter registration forms, and an NRA representative was on hand to sign up new members. The North Country Friends group plans to participate in local parades throughout the summer.