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They are circulating as far north as Lake Champlain, being spotted in the Hudson Valley, and creeping over the state line into Pennsylvania: U.S. paper currency stamped "Andrew Cuomo Must Go! Your Vote Counts."

The source of the red-ink markings is a stamp sold by Jim Arendt, a Spencerport retailer whose creation is catching on with New Yorkers disenchanted with the governor, particularly gun owners stewing over some of the toughest gun laws in the country.

Comment threads on websites and blogs popular with gun-rights advocates suggest buyers are not only stamping money, but invoices, utility bills, greeting cards and whatever else they can get their hands on to vent their disdain.

"I have been stamping everything under the sun in Fulton County!" wrote a commenter on a nyfirearms.com forum called "Cuomo Must Go Currency."

Arendt, who owns a floor care business and sells the stamps on his website,2adefender.com (as in, Second Amendment defender), said he has sold hundreds since he created the stamp three months ago.

"We thought if people want to get active and help spread their displeasure with the current governor, let's do a stamp," said Arendt, a 48-year-old married father of two, whose website offers an array of gun rights- and outdoors-related paraphernalia, from bumper stickers and flags to compasses and tents.

"We don't make the stamps specifically for stamping currency," Arendt said. "People get the stamps and they stamp everything they see."

One commenter on the "Cuomo Must Go Currency" thread wrote, "I have even stamped my restaurant bills when I sign for it!!" Another, from northern Pennsylvania, wrote that her husband stamped his Verizon bill.

But it's money that is moving and spreading the message.

"Lol, someone just paid me back some money I lent them in a tightly sealed envelope," wrote a commenter from Orange County. "All the bills are stamped with Cuomo must go your vote counts."

The same commenter posted a photo of 44 $20-bills marked with the slogan.

"Been using mine every day when I have cash on me," wrote another commenter from Clinton County, near the Quebec border.

A triple-stamped $10-bill found its way to this reporter this week via a supermarket cashier in Perinton.

Stampers who believe they are surreptitiously engaging in an act of civil disobedience may be disappointed to learn that defacing currency in such a manner is not illegal, however.

Much like the popular "Where's George?" movement that has marked millions of $1-bills since the late 1990s, defacing a bill is not illegal unless it is done with the intent to render the bill unfit to be reissued, according to federal statute. Stamping a bill with "Cuomo Must Go! Your Vote Counts" does not destroy currency any more than scribbling one's initials on it.

Indeed, the issue was of so little concern to the Treasury Department's Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the Secret Service, which enforces the defacement law, that spokespeople there shrugged off questions on the matter and referred them to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

A spokesperson for U.S. Attorney William Hochul pointed to the statute and agreed that stamping bills in this fashion would not violate the law.

Arendt, who sells the stamps for $8.50 plus tax, said the aim of the stamp is to "normalize" gun owners by lending the impression through ubiquity that they are everywhere — the mechanic, the family doctor, the lawyer, the butcher, baker and candlestick maker.

"The more people that are realized as gun owners, the better it is for our cause," Arendt said. "Gun owners are not the crazed psychos you read about in the news everyday."

Inquiries placed with the Governor's Office were not returned.

DANDREATTA@Gannett.com

Twitter.com/david_andreatta

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