March 10, 2013

Spotlight on Albany

For outdoorsmen in New York, 2013 has been rocky year thus far.

It began with the passage of the NYSAFE Act in January and continues with an announcement last month about sporting license fee and structures changes.

I’ve been trying my best to keep up and I was in Albany on Feb. 28 for the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association’s annual sportsmen’s lobby day.

The size of the crowd for the event has been debated throughout the media. I’ve heard reports from 5,000 up to 12,000.

A City of Albany police officer told me there were more than 100 buses. When you consider that each bus, if full, carried 56 passengers, you have well over 5,500 people. Parking garages were also full. A friend of mine who worked in Albany near the Capitol for 30 years said it was the biggest demonstration crowd he’d ever seen.

I spent the morning in the Legislative Office Building trying my best to speak to legislators to get their thoughts on the NYSAFE act. One of those was freshmen Assemblyman Dan Stec of Queensbury. Stec grew up in a household with guns — his father was a N.Y.S. forest ranger — and has an appreciation for the outdoors. He’s an Adirondack 46er and a supporter of the Second Amendment.

“The courts are aware of this battle,” he told a group of North Country sportsmen who visited his office. “Is it likely that the legislature will have a change of heart and the governor is going to say, ‘You know what, I want a do over on this?’ I don’t think so. But let’s make it harder, make them accountable for all their votes. Let’s make them answer those questions. Let’s say, ‘why is your solution to the crime problem and the mental health problem to take my Second Amendment rights away from me?”

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