Thousands raised since former candidate's arrest

Posted at 6:30 PM, Feb 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-16 07:52:46-05

Gia Arnold is free on bail amid allegations she had an illegal AR-15 assault rifle in her car last week in Niagara Falls.

The 26-year-old first made headlines in 2014 when she ran an unsuccessful campaign for the State Senate.

Stephen Aldstadt is the president of the Shooters Committee for Political Education, or S.C.O.P.E., a pro-gun organization. He wouldn't comment on Arnold's case, but he said the group has long contested the now illegal status of most AR-15s.

“If you're going to pass a law with guns, you should pass a law that actually targets criminal behavior, not makes criminals out of ordinary sportsman and gun owners," he said.

That's partially why thousands have been raised online to help fund Arnold's defense. The "Gia's (Un)Safe Act Defense Fund” on has raised about $3,700 in a matter of days.

According to the fundraiser, officers didn’t Arnold a reason for pulling her over last Wednesday. It also claims police misidentified her airsoft pistol for the handgun.

The organizer of the fundraiser posted that the AR-15 in Arnold's car is illegal under New York’s S.A.F.E. Act. But the sporting rifle would have been legal before the law was passed.

Aldstadt said it should still be legal. “AR-15's are used for many things: target shooting, competition, recreational shooting, hunting. They're the most popular sporting rifle sold in America today.”

Not all second amendment advocates are coming to Arnold's defense. This blogger claims she created her own problems by possessing a loaded assault rifle in her car, and her case won't be the one to overturn the S.A.F.E. Act.

Calls to Niagara Falls Police weren't returned Monday.

As for Arnold, we're told she's received death threats from this incident. So she isn't talking publicly.

Arnold's due back in Niagara Falls City Court on Tuesday.