SPRINGVILLE — Springville’s Joylan Theatre was packed to the gills by Southtowners interested in hearing their elected officials’ thoughts about the New York SAFE Act.
The event was held April 14, the day before owners of military-style assault weapons were required to register them, according to the SAFE Act.
But speakers and attendees alike expressed their intent to exercise civil disobedience en masse, in opposition to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2013 legislation.
New York Assemblyman David DiPietro and the Springville Field and Stream Club hosted the April 14 event and invited the public to attend and participate.
Sheriff Tim Howard
Each official in attendance was given the chance to voice his or her opinion about the SAFE Act and its impact since it was passed a year ago in January.
After the crowd stood for the Pledge of Allegiance, DiPietro pointed out the use of “under God,” adding, “There is no God in Albany. There is a dark cloud over that place.”
Referencing a recent study released by the American Bible Society, DiPietro pointed out that Buffalo and Albany are both listed in the top six most ungodly cities in America. “We’re the worst blue state in the country,” he said. “We’ve taken God out of everything we do. But I go [to Albany] fighting a different fight.”
DiPietro said that he has been attempting to change other politicians’ minds about the SAFE Act. “All I can do is shine a light,” he said. “When you shine a light on the rats, they scurry.”
The assemblyman called out elected officials whose purpose, he said, was to stay in office. “We lose 7,000 [residents] per week out of New York state,” he said. “We have lost 4 million people over the last decade and gained 2 million who are permanently on Welfare. Only 31 percent of this state actually works. New York is the No. 1 out-migration state, and we know how to fix it.”
Saying that he is targeted in Albany for his stance on taxes and non-essential legislation, DiPietro said that he was determined to let people know what he believes, and he encouraged those passionate about their gun rights to join him.
“We need registered gun owners to get out to vote,” he said. “There is power in numbers. If you are a Democrat because of your parents, you give them the numbers. Please, change your registration. It’s time to get in people’s faces and tell them what we believe.”
DiPietro quoted Cuomo’s Jan. 22 radio address, in which the New York governor had said that extreme conservatives “have no place in the state of New York.” “We aren’t going to let the governor run us out because we don’t believe in his morals,” DiPietro said. “That’s the most arrogant thing I’ve ever heard from any politician. Ever.”
Erie County Sheriff Timothy Howard also had a quote to share with the audience from actor Clint Eastwood: “Participating in a gun buyback program because you think that criminals have too many guns is like having yourself castrated because you think your neighbors have too many kids.
“Albany has barred God from our Capitol and our schools,” the sheriff added, and reminded the audience that Erie County is one of 52 New York counties to vote to repeal the SAFE Act.
Although he said that choosing to not register a firearm is a very “personal decision,” Howard cautioned those who make that choice to be careful about the people to whom they divulge that information.
Shooters Committee on Political Education Chairman Harold “Budd” Schroeder commended Howard for refusing to enforce the SAFE Act. He mentioned a debate that the sheriff recently had with an opponent, in which the other party representative criticized Howard for not enforcing that legislation and handing out the class B felonies.
“You know what else is a class B felony?” Schroeder asked. “Adultery. Does anyone enforce that?”
Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs prefaced his comments with the assurance that, “I still have not given any information to The Buffalo News,” referencing a Freedom of Information Law request filed by that publication last January, requesting the names and addresses of county gun permit-holders.
Jacobs said that 30,000 individuals are currently in Erie County’s pistol permit database. Out of that number, 25,000 have sent in opt-out forms, to keep their information from being made public. “I was able to postpone The [Buffalo] News, but I will eventually run out of time,” he said, asking those who have not opted out to do so soon.
“This has been an unprecedented year with the number of pistol permit applications, since the SAFE Act was passed,” Jacobs said, apologizing to those who have endured a lengthy permit application period, and assuring everyone that he was doing what he could, to streamline the process. “A year is a long time to wait, to exercise your Second Amendment rights.”
The Erie County Legislature recently passed legislation instructing Jacobs to not utilize the county seal or letterhead for any documentation enforcing the SAFE Act.
Erie County Legislature Chairman John Mills took the mic with a call of “How dare Albany take our freedom away? They’re out there trying to self-destruct our freedoms. They are out of their realms and out of their minds. They forget who the boss is. We’re the boss. They work for us.”
Mills challenged those present to get out and vote and to encourage others to register. “That’s the only way we’re going to beat these people,” he said. “I, for one, intend to keep my 12-gauge shotgun in that closet for as long as I live.”
“Are you angry?” Schroeder asked. “What are you going to do about it? Only one out of every five gun owners goes to the polls to vote. Cuomo thinks he was sent here to rule us. I thought that we got rid of our rulers back in 1776. Do it with ballots, not bullets. Get everybody who is not registered to vote to register, so that in November, we can get rid of those people.”
Schroeder pulled out a quote of his own, referencing actor and National Rifle Association President Charlton Heston, who said, “I want to say those fighting words for everyone within the sound of my voice to hear and to heed, and especially for you, Mr. [Al] Gore: From my cold, dead hands.”
Scott Miller, SCOPE’s legal advisor, said, “Let’s throw out everyone who voted for this stinking law and replace them.”
Representatives for senators Catharine Young and Patrick Gallivan were also in attendance, with the reminder that the senators had both voted against the SAFE Act.
New York Revolution Western New York Regional Director Mattie Zarpentine said that gun rights will not be maintained by passivity. “Our constitutional rights are under attack,” she said. “Decisions will be made, regardless of how you feel about politics. They have forgotten that they work for us.”
She pleaded with gun owners to get to the polls and vote. “There are 6 million gun owners in New York,” she said. “If they all became registered voters, they would make up 61 percent of the vote. Get out there. Get others registered to vote, and then get to the polls. We can and will take our state and country back.”
Gia Arnold, a candidate for the New York State Senate 62nd District, said, “I am a mother, a wife, a small business owner and on Wednesday, I will also be a felon.” Saying that she is confident that civil disobedience works, Arnold added that she would let the April 15 assault weapon registration deadline pass without filling out any paperwork.
She spent April 15 at a Second Amendment rally in downtown Buffalo, shredding gun registration forms to protest the SAFE Act.
“I will not register my AR-17 or get rid of my large-capacity magazines,” she said, and then addressed the police officers standing at the back of the theater. “If you want to arrest me now, or wait until Wednesday, just let me know.
“If the ‘Unsafe Act’ has done anything, it’s linked patriots across the state,” Arnold added.
After a question and answer session with the audience, the officials asked gun owners to participate in the “Shot Heard Around the United States” by firing one legal shot at noon, Eastern Standard Time, on April 19. More information about that endeavor may be found at www.facebook.com/events/1417022425204925/?ref=22.
To obtain an opt-out form, visit www2.erie.gov/clerk and click on “Pistols, Permits & Notary.”
To register to vote in Erie County, visit www.elections.erie.gov.