More than 10-thousand gun rights activists protest the NY SAFE Act in Albany, including hundreds from WNY

Thousands Protest the NY SAFE Act in Albany

February 28, 2013 Updated Mar 1, 2013 at 1:09 PM EDT

By Rachel Elzufon

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February 28, 2013 Updated Mar 1, 2013 at 1:09 PM EDT

Upwards of 10-thousand New Yorkers met in Albany to protest the New York SAFE Act, venting their anger at Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Several people said they cannot remember the last time an issue caused so much controversy in Albany.

Jerry Heaten, with the Erie County Conservation Society, said this rally was about the people. "We're going to have to rely on not just having the NRA (as advocates), not just the gun clubs and sporting clubs, but we're going to have to do it," Heaten told Eyewitness News.

Protesters, many who own guns, were outraged over New York's tough new gun law. They believe the New York SAFE Act violates the second amendment.

Heather Reichart, one of the hundreds who came from Western New York, said "that's all we can do is fight for our rights." Her family owns a gun shop in Lackawanna, and say business is drying up because many guns they sell are included in the assault weapons ban.

The protest included speeches from the President of the NRA and several Western New Yorkers, including a student from West Seneca.

Hundreds of Western New Yorkers arrived by bus at ten in the morning.

"It's great to see this and hear people say to the politicians, you cannot take away our rights," said Chuck Godfrey, who came with the Erie County Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs. That group filled six busses alone.

The goal of protesters is to get lawmakers to repeal the law.

Before the rally, hundreds of lobbyists swept through the State Capitol, trying to meet every single Assemblyperson and State Senator.

The security line went out the building at one point. Stephen Aldstadt, with the Shooters Committee on Political Education, told Eyewitness News "this thing has gotten so many people across the state angry. They're here to let their legislators know."

Assemblywoman Jane Corwin (R-Clarence) told lobbyists that she is working on new legislation that she hopes will replace the controversial parts of the New York SAFE Act.

"We need to make sure that we get these (mental health) services back to people," Corwin says. That includes getting "school psychologists back in the school buildings so we can get kids at a younger age."

The protesters who converged in Albany vow not to let up on the issue until the NY SAFE Act is repealed.

A counter-protest was originally scheduled by supporters of New York's new gun law, who argue something needed to be done to curb gun violence.

That protest was cancelled due to concerns of safety.

However, organizers say multiple groups are planning a massive gun safety rally in New York City for late March. That event is also expected to draw thousands of people.