Hundreds of local gun-rights advocates lined Veterans Memorial Highway in Hauppauge Saturday to demand the repeal of the state's newest sweeping gun regulation.
The protest, led by a coalition of groups, was one of several rallies to take place on Long Island since Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act in January, one month after 20 children were killed in the Newtown, Conn., school shooting.
A common complaint among attendees Saturday was that the act violates Second Amendment rights without effectively addressing the country's problem with gun violence.
"The reason the Connecticut shooting was covered so widely by the media is because it is a rare situation," said Stephen J. Aldstadt, president of the Shooters Committee on Political Education based in the upstate Town of Colden. "Most gun violence happens with illegally obtained weapons in urban areas, not with licensed non-criminals."
More than 200 rally participants gathered near the Suffolk County H. Lee Dennison Building to carry signs, wave flags and distribute petitions calling for a repeal of the law, which outlines a stricter definition for "assault weapons" and establishes a state gun registry for all private sales — among other provisions.
Representatives from a number of state organizations spoke, urging the crowd to uphold their Constitutional rights and to resist the government's attempts to restrict gun ownership.
"Registration leads to confiscation and confiscation leads to slavery," members of the New York City chapter of Oath Keepers announced to the cheering crowd.
John L. Cushman, president of the Commack-based Sportsmen's Association for Firearms Education said that while he understands the government's concerns, it has only criminalized innocent people.Moving forward, he and other gun rights advocates hope to discuss the importance and safety of gun ownership with elected officials during S.A.F.E.'s Firearm Civil Rights Conference in Smithtown in September.