By Joseph Spector
Albany Bureau Chief
ALBANY, NY-- Gun-rights advocates held a rally Tuesday at the Capitol to continue their protest of the state's gun-control law, saying it is unconstitutional and should be repealed.
There have been at least five major rallies in Albany in opposition to the law passed in January. The law toughens the state's assault-weapons ban, requires additional registration by gun owners and limits the number of bullets in a magazine to seven.
Tuesday's rally, which drew about 1,000 people from across the state, hit on the same themes as previous events: attacking Gov. Andrew Cuomo with chants of "Cuomo's gotta go" and signs that included, "Cuomo - Kiss My AR's."
Some Republicans lawmakers said they would press for the law's repeal, although legislative leaders and Cuomo have given no indication they would make major changes.
Some attendees said they would not comply with the law.
"If they would pass a law that would truthfully save people, I'm sure everybody here would be more than willing to adhere to it," said Lou DiPietro, 65, of West Henrietta, Monroe County. "But basically the law that they've made isn't doing anything against criminals, it's only against the law-abiding citizens."
Jeanine Pirro, a Fox News host and former Westchester County district attorney, was the featured speaker at the noon rally, and she criticized the law for targeting legal gun owners. Pirro, a Republican, ran unsuccessfully against Cuomo for attorney general in 2006.
"It's the bad guys we have to go after, and not my Second Amendment rights," Pirro said.
She knocked the Journal News, a Gannett Co. Inc. publication, for publishing a map last December of gun-permit holders' addresses in Westchester and Rockland counties, saying it vilified gun owners and "put us in danger."
The map was later removed after the law was changed to allow gun owners to opt out from having their information public.
Cuomo has defended the law, saying it will make New York safer and ensure guns are out of the hands of the mentally ill.
"Gun safety is a politically charged issue and a lot of people have very strong feelings about guns. I understand it. I respect it," Cuomo said last February in Poughkeepsie. "I also understand that there has been a chronic problem of gun violence in this state and in this nation. Too many innocent people have lost their lives."
Gun-rights groups and some Republican lawmakers delivered about 150,000 petitions to Cuomo's office on Tuesday. There is also a lawsuit to have the law overturned, claiming it violates the Second Amendment.
Assemblyman Bill Nojay, R-Pittsford, Monroe County, said at the rally that, "What this governor and his friends in the state Legislature do not realize is that the U.S. Constitution and the constitution of the state of New York are one document, not separate documents that you can peel apart."
The state Sheriff's Association is supportive of having the law tossed, and some sheriffs said they would not enforce the SAFE-Act.
"I took an oath that I would uphold the constitution of the United States, and I'm not in favor of any law that violates the constitution of the United States," said Fulton County Sheriff Thomas Lorey, who attended the rally.
Some attendees of the rally took issue with the hastiness with which the law was passed. Legislators passed it just hours after it was printed. There were a few signs portraying the Democratic governor as Hitler.
The Legislature has made minor changes to the law since its passage. The Assembly recently passed a bill to exempt retired police oficers from the assault-weapons ban, but it has yet to pass the Senate.
"Why wasn't it discussed? Why didn't everybody sit down and talk about it?" Frank McGregor, 60, of Buffalo, said about the law. "There's so many mistakes with the law."