More Than 1,000 Protest NY SAFE Act

January 19, 2013 Updated Jan 21, 2013 at 12:40 PM EDT

By Rachel Elzufon

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January 19, 2013 Updated Jan 21, 2013 at 12:40 PM EDT

Buffalo, NY (WKBW) - More than a thousand second amendment supporters crowded into Niagara Square, chanting in a fierce protest over their right to bear arms.

The rally was originally planned as a smaller show of support to recognize National Gun Appreciation Day. However, the protest took on a life of its own in the days after Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the NY SAFE Act, the nation's now strictest gun legislation.

Gun rights supporters came from all over Western New York, clearly outraged. They feel as if the SAFE Act tramples on their second amendment rights.

Lenny Roberts, founder of Primary Challenge, told the crowd "We are not going to let them strip us of our arms, we are not going to let them make us defenseless."

The crowd was full of passion and anger. Protestors chanted "traitor, traitor," speaking of local legislatures that voted for the bill.

Most of the anger was directed towards Cuomo. At one point, the crowd broke out into a chant of "impeach Cuomo."

Activist Carl Paladino spoke about politicians, saying "You give them an inch, they'll take a mile. And that's what you're seeing today."

Protestors were furious, saying the SAFE Act turns them into criminals.

Joseph Tartaro, of the Second Amendment Foundation, said the SAFE Act is "affecting law abiding people. Nothing they've done is really going to affect criminals and the lunatics who brought this about."

Signs and chants filled Niagara Square. Some with quotes about the second amendment. Others comparing Cuomo and President Obama to Hitler, Stalin and Saddam Hussein.

The protest comes just one day after State Senator Mark Grisanti defended his vote, citing mental health and school safety improvement.

Grisanti told Eyewitness News "Sometimes it takes law abiding citizens to give up something to further help law abiding citizens by getting these public policy initiatives through."

The legislator added that the original bill, which he fought against, would have confiscated assault rifles and created a public registry of gun owners.

Several speakers highlighted the event, including a shooting victim.

Pastor Robert Palaszewski remembered "As I lay there, it never once occurred to me to blame the firearm that shot me. I'm not that stupid. I understood that it was the evil of the individual who did this."

Meanwhile, Governor Cuomo announced that his office is creating a website and hotline to answer concerns over the new law.

Viewers from both sides also spoke out on Channel 7's Facebook page.

Nancy wrote "people say guns don't kill -- people do. A person without a gun can kill fewer people than those who have them."

Debbie wrote "too bad some just don't get it. They are taking away your rights and it won't help protect any children."