LaPierre leads sportsmen’s rally in Albany

Albany – New York sportsmen poured into the state capital last
month in an unprecedented show of solidarity – and frustration –
highlighted by a stirring pep talk by National Rifle Association
Executive Vice President/CEO Wayne LaPierre.

An estimated 2,000 hunters, trappers and anglers flooded “The
Well” of legislative office building, meeting with lawmakers,
hearing several featured speakers and plotting a course to preserve
the hunting heritage of the Empire State.

But it was LaPierre who ignited the crowd with an impassioned
plea urging New York gun owners and sportsmen to stand up and be
counted – particularly at the ballot box.

“Too many politicians in this state are out of step – out of
step with the majority of Americans, out of step with the majority
of New Yorkers and out of step with what really works against
crime,”_LaPierre told the crowd. “New York state leads the nation
in releasing inmates from prison and having them put back in
prison, yet all they want to talk about is more gun laws on
you.”

Citing crime statistics in New York and specific cases where
criminals have been released from prison only to commit heinous
crimes, he said New York’s laundry list of gun laws don’t work.

“New York already has every kind of gun law you can imagine,” he
said. “Yet whenever a criminal commits a crime with a gun, there’s
Senator (Chuck)_Schumer scrambling to score another sound bite
about how some new gun law needs to be imposed on you.”

For LaPierre, it was a homecoming of sorts; he graduated from
Siena College just up the road from the state capital. And the NRA,
ironically, was founded in New York City more than 125 years
ago.

LaPierre reminded sportsmen and gun owners that, despite what
the media may claim, they are in the majority.

“We’re not the fringe,” he said. “The Bloombergs, the Schumers,
the Hillary Clintons, they’re the fringe when it comes to the
Second Amendment. They’re not the mainstream; all of you here today
at the mainstream of New York state.”

Hosted by Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb (R-C-I,
Canandaigua) and the Assembly Minority Conference, the gathering
included numerous exhibitors from sportsmen’s organizations and
also allowed hunters, anglers and trappers a chance to meet
individually with their state representatives.

New York State Conservation Council_President Howard Cushing was
thrilled with the turnout, which comes during an election year in
which all state offices are up for grabs.

“It shows that despite some of our differences about season
settings, (hunting) implements and even license fee increases, we
all knew the best thing to do was to get here and let the
legislators know we’re serious and it’s all going to culminate in
November when we vote,”_Cushing said.

Tom King, president of the New York State Rifle and Pistol
Association, noted the “50-some odd anti-gun bills that run rampant
in both the Assembly and Senate” and urged sportsmen to “demand a
Second Amendment for New York state, because there is not one right
now.”

King said New York sportsmen and women also need to fight for a
“shall issue” pistol permit license; pistol license reciprocity
with all 50 states; protections for all firearms manufacturers
within New York state; more and easier access to state hunting
lands; a dedicated conservation fund to facilitate game management
and increase hunting opportunities; a complete accounting of and
dedicated use for Pittman-Robertson funds in New York, which he
called “long overdue;” a hunting environment that will bring
hunting dollars from outside the state to depressed areas of New
York such as the Adirondacks; public shooting ranges and work to
put criminals in jail and keep them there.

Safari Club International President Larry Rudolph cited
statistics that show the economic impact of hunting and fishing in
New York.

“Our outdoor community has a real opportunity to elect
legislators who support our hunting heritage and shape the
legislative agenda both here at the state level and in the halls of
Congress,”_Rudolph said. “The outdoor economy is an economic
powerhouse and your lawmakers need to know that. We are the goose
that lays the golden egg every year.”

Rudolph said 28,000 jobs are supported by sportsmen’s dollars in
New York, and $1.8 billion is spent annually by sportsmen in the
Empire State.

Ken Mathison, president of SCOPE – Shooters’ Committee on
Political Education – was impressed with the rally, but said it was
just a first step.

“The only way we can make this matter is to take it back to our
home districts and make it matter to the people there,” he said.
“We have to support the people who are on our side and un-elect
people who aren’t on our side – make them fear us at the ballot
box.”

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