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Anti-gun law reform advocates expecting large turnout in Gouverneur

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GOUVERNEUR – Next month the village will be the focus of the latest protest in opposition to recently passed gun ownership legislation by the state.

Billed as a pro-Second Amendment rally, Joel J. LaPierre, an event organizer, said 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.

“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,’” he added.

The rally is slated to feature speakers including Tom King, president of the New York 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 Party; and county Legislators Joseph Lightfoot and Alex Mackinnon.

The event is being held in Gouverneur as opposed to Canton, the county seat, because it was more difficult to get a permit in Canton, Mr. LaPierre explained. 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 and an organizer of the April rally, said they hope to build awareness that the NYSAFE Act “is unconstitutional,” he said.

“All it does is forward the Democratic agenda to disarm the public,” he said.

Mr. Kring added, “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.

The law additionally 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 on April 13 at the Village Park in downtown Gouverneur.

At noon the speakers will begin addressing 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.

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