BY BILL WOLCOTT
Niagara Gazette — LOCKPORT — About 200 citizens challenged the bitter chill and the recently passed NY-SAFE Act at a Tuesday evening rally in front of the Niagara County Courthouse.
Most of the protesters were men, but there were some women and children in the crowd. Many carried hand-written signs and were unworried about speaking out against Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who pushed the country's most restrictive gun law through the state legislature overnight on Jan. 15-16 in Albany.
Later Tuesday night, the Niagara County Legislature unanimously voted to ask Gov. Andrew Cuomo to repeal the bill.
Gun rights activists want to repeal the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act and want the governor's political ambitions checked. One protestor suggested Cuomo should be jailed for treason.
Sean Mazur, a native of Houston, Texas, brought 10-year-old Caitlyn to the rally.
"I wanted to show my daughter that one of our rights is to assemble and one of our rights is to bear arms," he said.
Mazur, who now lives in Wilson, owns a handgun, a rifle and has used what Cuomo would classify as assault weapons to hunt elk in Washington State.
"An assault weapon that I carry is not only to hunt, but to fight a tyrannical government," he said. "That's why the founders signed that law to make sure the government didn't have absolute power over the citizens."
Some protesters protested the use of the term "assault weapon."
Loren Tiffany of Newfane said, "There's no such thing as an assault weapon. Assault is a behavior. Those are defense guns they are talking about. ... A tyrant's first act is to disarm all the people."
Tiffany attended the rally in Buffalo and intends to join the excursion to Albany which leaves at 4:30 a.m. on Feb. 28 from the Eastern Hills Mall. "We're going to repeal the Cuomo law," Tiffany said. "He did it in the dark of night. I hope this just ruins his chance of ever going higher in the government."
Steve Pettitt of Newfane brought is daughter Stacy for support. The Vietnam veteran said, "I want to make sure all the work I did over there doesn't get thrown away. We've got rights. I want to keep them."
His guns? "That's nobody's business but mine," he said. "What's wrong with having guns? Nothing."
Adam Balcom, an Air Force veteran, came with his wife Marion and sons Clayton, 12, and Logan, 9.
An aircraft weapons specialist, Balcom served in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan during his tour from 1995 to 2002. He does not want the state to infringe on his Second Amendment rights.
"It's my Constitutional right," he said. "I fought for it. My family deserves it."
Niagara Falls resident Karl Zaker has an assortment of guns for hunting and a pistol permit.
"I think it's a crock of crap," he said of the SAFE Act. "I don't think it addresses the problem in the first place. I'm a big fan of proven methods to attack a situation, not just jump in feet first in panic mode."
His brother Richard Zaker said, "I never owned a gun until the governor put this law into place. I was worried about my rights being taken away."
Signs at Lockport Rally for Guns "Cuomo can't get illegal guns, will take our legal guns." ••• "USA, Land of the Free, home of the Brave made possible by guns. State lawmaker be courageous, not coward" ••• "Criminals believe in gun control too" ••• Fear the government that fears your guns. ••• "Molon Labe" Used when outnumbered. It's an ancient Greek expression which means, "Come and take it." It is a classical expression of defiance spoken by in response to the Persian army's demand that the Spartans surrender their weapons at the Battle of Thermopylae. ••• Wayne Kneeppel of Gasport had a quote from Hitler's 1935 speech on the German Weapons Act on his back: "This year will go down in history. For the first time a civilized nation has full gun registration. Our streets will be safer, our police more efficient and the world will follow our lead in the future."