ALBANY, N.Y. - Thousands of gun owners and gun rights advocates have converged on the State Capitol today.
Photo Gallery of Gun Rally in Albany
Six bus loads of Erie County residents left Eastern Hills Mall around 4:45 a.m. and another ten buses left from various locations across the area.
Gun-rights supporters filled the West Capitol Park on Thursday to protest the state's gun-control law, seeking a repeal of the law and a condemnation of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Signs read, "Cuomo - Take the criminals' guns; leave mine alone" and "Cuomo, Kiss My AR's!" and "Say no to Comrade Cuomo."
"Not all aspects of the law are bad, but some of them don't make sense. I don't feel that the governor can even explain them," said Heidi Hayes, 32, of Stone Ridge, Ulster County.
Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, Otsego County, said he would like to see a full repeal of the law signed on Jan. 15. He said that is unlikely, though, and will hope an expected lawsuit to toss the measure will be successful.
"I think the best opportunity to make some changes in the bill, to make it more reasonable and workable in terms of law abiding gun owners in New York. But the ultimate answer is the court challenge," he said.
Protesters traveled in about 100 buses from all over the state for the noon rally where they railed against the gun-control law. It bans assault weapons and limits the number of bullets in a magazine to seven. It also bolsters permitting requirements for gun owners.
Some protesters said their goal was to oust the Democratic governor from office. They said they disapproved of how the law was passed; it was introduced, approved by both chambers and signed by the governor in less than 24 hours.
Thursday's rally was the third by gun-rights supporters since the law was adopted, and it was the largest.
"Every citizen in this state should be here," said Ronald Lambertson, 45, of Wawarsing, Ulster County, while waiting in line. "If we're not here, there is a good chance that we can lose our guns. We're making a stand. We're showing Albany that they woke a sleeping giant."
Cuomo has said the law protects New Yorkers from gun violence.
It was the first gun-control law in the country to be passed after the Newtown, Conn., massacre in December.
"I understand the politics of it, but I'm very proud that this state passed a comprehensive, common sense gun control law that is reasonable, that is balanced, that does not affect hunters, does not affect sportsmen," Cuomo said earlier this month in Poughkeepsie.
"It's about keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, about keeping the guns out of the hands of criminals. And that, everybody should be able to agree on."
The law includes harsher punishments for illegal gun use and provisions to keep guns out of the hands of mentally ill people, which Republicans pushed for. But protesters said Thursday that the measure goes after law-abiding gun owners.
"I'm sick and tired of people blaming evil on guns," Alania Keymel, 62, of Ontario, Wayne County, said. "It's not fair. This isn't a police state. We have our freedoms."
Dave Coolbaugh, a 54-year-old from Elmira, said state leaders are taking away New Yorkers' gun rights to forward their own political agenda.
"I don't know what they think gives them that right," he said.
A Steuben County man said the law is an insult to U.S. soldiers, who fight to defend Americans' rights, including the right to bear arms.
"I'm frustrated," Jarrod Rial, 31, of Corning, said. "To take a day off from work to come here and defend my Second Amendment rights -- it's ridiculous."
A number of Republican lawmakers who voted against the bill drew a huge response from the crowd. Sen. Michael Nozzolio, R-Fayette, Seneca County, criticized comments made by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in his State of the State address in January.
In a comment that has become a rallying point for opponents of the new gun laws, Cuomo then said: "You don't need 10 bullets to kill a deer."
Nozzolio responded Thursday: "We do not have a constitutional right to deer hunt. We have a constitutional right to bear arms, and that's what this is all about."