Whatever illusion Gov. Andrew Cuomo might have once had that opposition to the signature piece of legislation during his term would eventually fade away should be largely dispelled after a day like today.
Throughout New York today gun owners gathered at gun clubs to fire a single shot in protest at precisely noon in what was dubbed by organizers as "The Shot Heard Round New York."
More than 80 gun owners turned out at the Northwoods Sportsman Club on Gulf Road in Le Roy. There was also a protest in Batavia at Godfrey's Pond.
"I think it's huge that people took the time, in the rain, to come out and protest this," said Christina Marinaccio, who helped organize the event at Northwoods.
Sen. Mike Ranzenhofer and Assemblyman Steve Hawley participated in the protest.
"I thought it important to show solidarity with SCOPE and these hunting groups that are so opposed to the SAFE Act, as am I," Ranzenhofer said. "We're very dissatisfied, not only with the law itself, but the way it's been implemented."
Both Ranzenhofer and Hawley said Cuomo badly miscalculated when he rammed the unconstitutional gun control legislation through on the backs of support from Downstate interests. He clearly didn't understand how seriously the majority of Upstate New Yorkers take the U.S. Constitution.
"We're talking about the Constitution of the United States of America and as far as I know, New York is part of our country," Hawley said. "The SAFE Act was excuted last year under the cover of darkness and excluded every single New Yorker from having a discussion about the act. The papers were still hot off the presses when the Senate voted on it and we voted on it the next day. We're run by New York City in this state and apparently those that are from Downstate choose to ignore the Constitution."
Ranzenhofer said his constituents find the legislation insulting.
"The comment I hear all the time is you're taking people who are law-abiding citizens and labeling them as criminals, and they're very offended by that," Ranzenhofer said. "These are people who have lived, and paid their taxes, here in Genesee County and across the state their whole lives. They're very upset."
One of the participants, John Marinaccio (Christina's brother), said the protest does send an important message to everybody in the state.
"We're able to unite all these people with a common interest and show everyone else out there why it's so important to us," Marinaccio said. "We feel that by rallying together like this we're proving that to people."
Christina said there is a direct problem with the SAFE Act that's going to hit the club.
"Our youth program is core of this club," Marinaccio said. "We're struggling right now because we won't be able to provide ammunition for our kids once the SAFE Act's provisions for background checks on ammunition goes through. It's really going to be a big hit for us because we really built up the program by offering the kids a chance to come down here and shoot for free."