Rod, Gun & Game: Albany SAFE Act rally draws 15,000 firearm owners
Many people said that they believed the state has made them instant criminals. Attendees said that they face being forced to give up their firearms, while criminals are left to illegally retain their guns, to commit crimes.
Former President Theodore Roosevelt said, “Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by your president or any other public official.” It is possible that Roosevelt was incredibly prophetical.
I grew to realize how strong the public reaction is, to this legislation. Many groups from Erie County and other places, all across the state, traveled to the state capitol, to take part in the rally, held in “The Well.”
The Erie County Federation of Sportsmen organized a six-bus group that departed from Eastern Hills Mall. Representatives from Channel 2, Channel 4, local radio stations and other news services were busy conducting interviews with local attendees, organizer Rich Davenport and Erie County Federation President Chuck Godfrey.
I ran into two people who did not own firearms, but who were upset about the manner in which the SAFE Act was passed. They both told me that they were planning to purchase firearms, as soon as possible. I surveyed other people and found 13 additional local attendees who did not own firearms. Each lamented about how fast the gun control bill was processed, by the state government. These people said they felt that they had to do something, to lend their attention to their birthrights as free Americans.
The attendees ranged in age from 22 – 85 years.
Once the buses arrived in Albany, everyone had to enter a 300-yard-long waiting line. Attendees were funneled into a single security scan machine, similar to those in airports.
The Well is a park-like area that featured bare trees, concrete sidewalks and ankle-deep mud. Everyone was contained to a 200-by-400-foot area, with the Alfred E. Smith office building on one end and the New York state capitol building on the other.
Multiple speakers provided a formal agenda, via an amplified sound system that could be heard half a mile away.
The 80,000-square-foot space was approximately 70 percent full. The walkways on both sides of the park and steps into the capitol building were also full.
Although this gathering was held in the middle of a work week, during February’s coldest winter weather, it was the biggest rally Albany has ever hosted.
A legislative meeting scheduled for the day of the rally removed many legislators from their offices. Attendees were frustrated that they were unable to express their views directly to their representatives.
Sen. Tim Kennedy’s administrative assistants said that Gov. Andrew Cuomo was attending a New York City meeting, during the rally hours.
I visited Kennedy’s office, along with two members from the East Aurora American Legion and Sons of Legion, three members from the Niagara County Shooters Committee on Political Education, one member from the Finger Lakes SCOPE and three representatives of the Erie County Federation of Sportsmen. Several of these were veterans.
During a recent meeting with this group, Kennedy said that he would never support an anti-gun bill, but, since then, he has done just that. After 30 minutes of discussion, Kennedy’s assistant admitted, “WNY is in need of economic assistance. That assistance needs to come from Albany and, sometimes, it is not possible to support all of the interests of all the constituents.” Does that mean that Second Amendment rights have been traded for local economic support?
Another official admitted that he may have been mistaken, in supporting the SAFE Act.
Regardless of what Western New York’s legislators do, 85 percent of voters in the NYS Assembly and NYS Senate represent New York City.
Every official we visited admitted that he or she had never seen an Albany rally that was as big or as loud as this event.
I believe this event sent the right message, expressing attendees’ frustration with the NY SAFE Act. Only time will tell.
State of Lake Ontario meeting
The annual State of Lake Ontario public meetings will be held in Niagara County on March 19 from 6:30 – 9 p.m. at the Cornell Cooperative Extension Building, located at 4487 Lake Ave. in Lockport. The meeting is co-hosted by Niagara County Cooperative Extension and the Niagara County Sportfishery Development Board
The New York Department of Environmental Conservation, the United States Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources will make a number of presentations, including updates about the status of trout and salmon fisheries, forage fish, stocking programs and fisheries management plans.
For more information, visit www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/27068.html.
Lake Ontario and its embayments and tributaries support populations of fish, including trout, salmon, bass, walleye, yellow perch and panfish. A recent statewide angler survey estimated that more than 2.6 million angler days were spent on Lake Ontario and its major tributaries. The estimated value of the Lake Ontario fisheries exceeded $112 million.
New NYS license fee structure
A new license fee structure has been proposed, to simplify the variety of tags for hunting and fishing, reduce license costs, especially for out-of-state individuals and change the start date for fishing to when an angler bought his or her annual license; the hunting year will still begin on Sept. 1.
Lake Erie tributary survey
The fourth Lake Erie tributary survey accumulated 1,779 interviews from eight stocked tributaries, between September 2011 and May 2012. The total tributary effort was approximately 182,000 angler hours, which was a 10 percent decline, from the 2007 – 08 survey.
Overall trout and salmon catch rates averaged 0.35 fish per hour, which was a 42 percent decline, from the previous survey.
The large majority of the Lake Erie’s tributary catch was comprised of steelhead. Among angler opinions, a modest majority of interviewed anglers said that they preferred the prevailing fishing regulations and otherwise opposed liberalization of tributary regulations, to accommodate dropper fly rigs or allow the use of multiple hook points.
The recently-prepared angler survey report provided detailed information about survey methods and statistics and is available on the Lake Erie reports page of the DEC’s website.
– Through March 10: WNY sport and travel show, Erie County Fairgrounds, Hamburg. Saturday: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. Sunday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. For more information, visit www.sportandtravelexpo.com.
– March 10: NYS Canada goose season ends, in the southern zone.
– March 15: NYS northern pike, pickerel, tiger musky and walleye seasons end.
– March 31: NYS crow season ends.
Send outdoor information for the Springville Journal’s Forrest Fisher column, 10 days in advance, to firstname.lastname@example.org.