The National Rifle Association on Thursday held a massive rally in Albany, N.Y. to protest the Empire State's restrictive gun laws signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in January. The state's massive gun control package gave New York the strictest gun laws in the United States.
NRA President David Keene fired up thousands of supporters outside the state Capitol, saying "we've lose battles before, we'll not lose this war."
"We'll help you defeat the politicians depriving you of your rights," Keene said. "We'll do whatever is necessary. We will not allow those freedoms to be taken from us."
David Keene, president of the National Rifle Association, speaks during a gun rights rally at the Capitol on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013, in Albany, N.Y. The group rallied against the recently legislated NY SAFE Act and other measures, they say infringe on their constitutional right to bear arms. Standing at left is Tom King of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association. Credit: AP
NRA membership has seen a steady increase as lawmakers continue to debate future gun control legislation. Keene said the NRA now has close to 5 million members.
Keene also reminded New Yorkers that big and small businesses could be impacted by new gun laws, using a green Remington Arms union T-shirt to make his point, The Business Review's Adam Sichko reports.
Sichko, who was at the event, has some more details:
Dozens of buses brought protestors from all corners of the state. Organizers kept referring to a crowd of 10,000, though that appeared to be an overestimate.
Many in the crowd raised American flags or yellow "Don't Treat on Me" flags. A number of signs compared Cuomo to Hitler and invoked communism. Others had messages such as: "If guns cause crime, then pencils cause misspelled words" or "I'm a mom and grandmother here to protect and defend their future."
One sign was especially pertinent: "Founded in 1816: Remington stays. Cuomo goes!"
Police estimated the crowd size at 5,000 at around 1 p.m. Thursday, Times Union reports.
The crowd could be heard chanting, "We will not comply!" at one point and later "Cuomo's gotta go!"
Watch some raw video taken at the rally:
In addition to outlawing semi-automatic rifles, or so-called "assault weapons," New York's new gun laws ban a broader array of military-style weapons and also restricts ammunition magazines to seven rounds, down from the current 10. The law also creates a more comprehensive database of people barred from owning guns, and makes New York the first state to require background checks to buy bullets.
But that just is more of a reason for the NRA to keep fighting for America's gun rights, Keene explained.
"Our strength comes from the fact that that broader community of Second Amendment believers in this country is not simply made of Republicans or conservative or Democrats or liberals or factory owners. It's made up of all Americans: farmers, union workers and all the rest, police officers and veterans," he told supporters.
The Associated Press contributed to this report