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State Senator and Activist get into Shouting Match

3:46 PM, Apr 28, 2013   |    comments
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A verbal battle over the gun control issue between State Senator Mark Grisanti and activist Rus Thompson unfolded Friday outside the senator's Buffalo office.

The conservative activist did not hold back when confronting Grisanti, a Republican, who sided with the governor on gun control.

A group was holding a Second Amendment rights rally when Grisanti stepped outside to address the group. That's when the two men started arguing.

"The repeal is not going to happen. It's not going to pass in the Assembly," said Grisanti.

"Well, how do we know that unless we bring it to the floor?" asked Thompson.

"Because I know," said Grisanti.

"Well, I don't care what you know," said Thompson.

Grisanti and Thompson do not see eye to eye on much these days.

"What part of the Second Amendment don't you understand? Shall not be infringed," said Thompson.

"I understand the Second Amendment," said Grisanti.

"No, you don't. You voted against it. You voted to take our rights away," said Thompson.

The fact that the two strongly disagree about the SAFE Act was made very clear Friday afternoon when Grisanti came out of his Buffalo office. The group of protesters is asking state lawmakers to repeal the new gun law. But, other topics quickly came up.

"You lied," said Thompson.

"Just because you have a problem with marriage equality, that's your problem, that's not my problem," said Grisanti.

"No, what the problem that I have is..." started Thompson.

"I never said that I would vote against marriage equality," said Grisanti.

"Oh, you're kidding me. You stood in front of our TEA Party group up in Niagara County," said Thompson.

"I said.." started Grisanti.

"You said I will not vote for anything that has the word marriage in it," said Thompson.

"I said I have a problem with the word marriage, but I also said I have a problem with people not having rights. That's what I said," said Grisanti.

"Give me a break," shouted Thompson.

Afterwards, we caught up with both men.

"I was there about ten minutes and all of the sudden, Mark Grisanti is in my face. So, I responded in kind," explained Thompson.

"So, would you say he started the argument?" asked Kelly Dudzik.

"Oh, there's no question about it," said Thompson.

"As soon as I came down, Rus Thompson, who I knew was the organizer of the event. I said, Russ, how you doing and he started saying right away about the repeal of the SAFE Act. I told him realistically, it's not going to be repealed. I said, the votes are not there for the repeal," explained Grisanti.

Although the rally was about the SAFE Act, those other subjects came up as the drama unfolded.

"They started bringing up other things, you know about the vote on marriage equality and where I was defending my wife's honor at the casino. I mean, it was just ridiculous because there was a heckler in the background bringing that up," said Grisanti.

"He doesn't like it when he's called out and he was called out today, and he tried to bring up other issues that had nothing to do with the issue at hand," said Thompson.

Grisanti says the men have agreed on issues before, like the NYS Thruway Authority, they just couldn't agree at this rally.

"We are able to communicate. It's just I don't know if he was doing this to posture for the crowd that he had there or what, but it didn't have to be as loud as he wanted it to get. We could have basically had a nice conversation about what the issue was," said Grisanti.

"I think it's possible for me to have a calm conversation with him, but I don't think it's the other way around. I don't think Senator Grisanti is possible of having a calm, quiet conversation when you confront him about an issue he's clearly wrong on," said Thompson.

The entire argument went on for more than six minutes before Grisanti went back into his office.

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