Protesters urge voter registration

JOHNSTOWN – Government officials and gun enthusiasts urged people Saturday to vote in November’s election to help end the NY SAFE Act.

During an anti-SAFE Act rally at the Pine Tree Rifle Club, George Amedore, Republican candidate for New York’s 46th Senate District, presented a voter-registration paper to the crowd and recommended they fill it out.

“I can only say one thing: We have an important right, we have the right to bear arms, but we also have this right,” Amedore said, holding up the paper. “Do me a favor: register, vote. I can’t tell you enough. … You may not be able to vote for me because you don’t live in my district, but do me a favor, as proud Americans, register if you haven’t registered.”

The rally was sparked by a court ruling earlier last week by state Supreme Court Judge Thomas McNamara. McNamara dismissed a claim by activist Robert Shultz, who said Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s SAFE Act was unconstitutional. McNamara ruled a “message of necessity” issued by Cuomo in January 2013 complied with the state constitution. A message of necessity lets state lawmakers vote on a bill immediately after it’s introduced, rather than wait for the required three-day aging period.

The 325 gun activists also were drawn to Saturday’s rally after the last big deadline of the SAFE Act was implemented Tuesday. Assault-style weapon registration is now mandatory, and if gun owners don’t comply, they could face a misdemeanor charge for not registering or a felony charge for illegal possession of an assault weapon.

Fulton County Sheriff Thomas Lorey said the judge’s dismissal is only a setback for gun activists.

“I think the battle will be won in the United States Supreme Court,” Lorey said. “You have to understand that all these judges who have heard the lawsuit have been appointed by Democratic administration; the Democrats as a whole came up with the SAFE Act and they’re pushing for the SAFE Act.”

Lorey said the law allows him to give someone who hasn’t yet registered an assault weapon with the state 30 days to do so; however, he said he won’t enforce the registration law at all.

“I personally will not enforce the law,” he said. “I will not arrest anybody in violation of this [SAFE Act.] I feel it’s unconstitutional and that’s my personal point of view. I won’t ask my deputies to accept my point of view; what they do is up to them, but I suspect that a lot of them are on the same page as I am. … Personally, as a police officer in the state of New York, I will not make an arrest under the SAFE ACT, not now and not ever.”

Lorey said he feels the state has spent money incorrectly and should focus more on mental health.

“[The state] has spent millions of dollars bringing this SAFE Act into effect, the same dollars we’re putting toward mental health treatment for the mentally ill,” he said. “That money could go a lot farther to help stop all of these crazy assaults. As somebody once said, guns don’t shoot anybody, it’s the people behind them.”