ALBANY, N.Y. - West Capitol Park filled with thousands of opponents of New York's new gun control law from across the state Thursday to lobby lawmakers and rally against measures they say infringe on their constitutional right to bear arms.
Two lines stretched through the Empire State Plaza in downtown Albany, with demonstrators waiting to pass through checkpoints and metal detectors to enter the Capitol.
People began early Thursday morning voicing their opinions against the New York SAFE Act which protestors say violates their Second Amendment rights. They tell NEWS10 it's not about hunting but rather protecting themselves and that the enhanced ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines won't save lives.
The governor continues to point out recent opinion polls, which show a majority of New Yorkers support the new legislation -- but those gathered vehemently disagree.
NRA president David Keene headlined the event. After, he took questions explaining why it was important for him to attend.
"There are so many people who are willing to stand up and fight for their rights and we want them to know that we're with them. We're not only with them, we're one of them because they are the NRA," said NRA president David Keene.
"This isn't about hunting," said Lori Evans "I'm just here to support the second amendment right and the right to express myself."
Lori Evans, like many others at the rally, is new to activism. But the states tougher gun control legislation championed by Governor Cuomo and passed by the legislature last month, changed that.
"If this right is taken from us we don't know what other rights could be taken from us," said Evans.
"You deal with gun crime by prosecuting it and all too often politicians don't do that," said Keene. "He was sacrificing the rights of the people of New York on the altar of his own ambition. Andrew Cuomo is a fellow that thinks he ought to be president."
"The constitution could have been amended the proper way, and if the people had decided to amend it they would have," said Bob Fitzmaurice.
The New York State Rifle and Pistol Association organized the event as part of its 5th Annual Lobby Day and were joined by dozens of other groups and advocates -- including a million women in support of the second amendment who lined the stairs of the Capitol.
"We have to protect ourselves. We have to take care of ourselves and this is not just a man's issue," said Ethelyn Rusnak.
Those sentiments were echoed by those who addressed the crowd, among them several legislators who voted against the SAFE Act. All of them spoke out against Governor Cuomo who championed the bill and the legislature who passed it last month.
"New York has become the poster child for how not to adopt legislation," said Keene. "In both state legislature and the national legislature if we have politicians that we sense that can be taken out as a result of their voting against second amendment rights we're going to help the states and opponents do just that."