Hundreds of local gun advocates rallied in Huntington on Saturday to uphold their right to bear arms, with many saying new and proposed gun laws will not stop another tragedy, like the killings in Newtown.
Upward of 200 people, including children, gathered at the busy intersection for the event called "We Will Not Comply," organized by the Brightwaters-based Conservative Society for Action, one of many similar events held nationwide Saturday as part of what was dubbed the first national Gun Appreciation Day. The rallies were held days after President Barack Obama and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo unveiled a raft of gun-control proposals and policies.
In Huntington, many who took part in the three-hour rally worried about the erosion of their rights and warned that it could diminish other constitutional protections.
Robert Burton, 36, of Plainview, said he brought his three sons to the event because he is an outdoorsman, concerned that new laws might bar him from enjoying hobbies such as hunting with his children.
Burton said having background checks on gun sales and transfers could help keep guns out of the hands of criminals.
Given what happened in Newtown, Conn., last month, when a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at a school, he said he supports having a trained and armed security guard, such as a retired police officer, in his sons' schools.
"I do believe that we should have security in our schools," he said.
Many of Saturday's participants vocally opposed and held signs against the new state gun laws, especially the restriction of ammunition magazines to seven bullets from the national standard of 10.
"When you take away bullets from a legal citizen who hasn't broken any laws, you put them and their family in jeopardy," said Art DiScala of the Conservative Society for Action.
DiScala, like several others there, said the new laws and restrictions will not prevent another Newtown. "You can't stop crazy . . . crazy will win in the long run and the best you can do is defend," he said.
Others said the country's mental health system needs change.
"What happened in Connecticut was appalling to us," Angela Patelli of Melville said, holding a sign her granddaughter had made for her. "If that principal was carrying a gun, it would have stopped him in his tracks.
"I am concerned about grandchildren's and children's liberties in the future," she said. "We're not anti-government, we're pro-freedom."