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State gun law opponents expecting large turnout for Gouverneur rally


Next month Gouverneur will be the focal point of the latest protest to the state’s recently passed gun law.

Billed as a pro-Second Amendment rally, the April 13 event is part show of support for the repeal of the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act passed in January, and part voter registration drive, said organizer Joel J. LaPierre.

“Basically our focus is going to be on getting people to register to vote and turn out at the polls in bulk on election days and get candidates in there that are for the people,” Mr. LaPierre said. “We feel that the candidates that are representing us are not representing ‘us the people.’”

The rally is going to feature several speakers including Tom King, president of the state Rifle and Pistol Association, Mike Mastergiavoni, vice president of the Shooters Committee on Political Education, Tom Jenison, chairman of the St. Lawrence County Republican Committee, and county Legislators Joseph R. Lightfoot, R-Ogdensburg, and Alexander A. Mackinnon, R-Fowler.

The event is being held in Gouverneur as opposed to Canton, the county seat, because it was more difficult to get a permit for a public gathering in Canton, Mr. LaPierre said. He said having the event in Gouverneur could also make it easier for people from Jefferson and Lewis counties to attend.

Lawrence I. Kring, a retired lieutenant in the state Department of Environmental Conservation Police and a fellow rally organizer, said they hope to build “awareness that the [NYSAFE Act] is unconstitutional. All it does is forward the Democratic agenda to disarm the public.”

Mr. Kring said, “We’re going to target the legislators who supported the SAFE Act [at the ballot box].”

The NYSAFE Act includes tougher penalties for people who kill first responders and use firearms illegally. Background checks on all firearm and ammunition sales, including private sales, are also required under the new law. It also bans assault weapons and magazines capable of carrying more than seven rounds.

Mr. LaPierre said he expects roughly 500 people to show up, but Mr. Kring said he expects “500 to 1,000 people, and maybe more than that.”

The rally will begin at 10:30 a.m. on April 13 at the Gouverneur Village Park. At noon the speakers will begin address the crowd, with Melody Burns acting as master of ceremonies. Ms. Burns hosts the Conservative radio talk show “The Melody Burns Show” in Albany.

“We’re hoping to make it an old-fashioned, fun day with a message,” Mr. Kring said.

Mr. LaPierre and Mr. Kring said they are hoping to find a band to play patriotic songs at the event.

Mr. Kring said anyone interested in getting involved should contact him at 323-2107.

“Get the word out,” Mr. Kring said, encouraging others opposed to gun reform to get involved.

The organizers also orchestrated a trip by north country residents last month to Albany protesting the law.

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