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Watertown residents travel to Albany to protest gun control law

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With a slushy sendoff, a delegation of Watertown residents began its trip to Albany early Thursday to protest the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013, a bill they believe unfairly restricts their right to own guns.

The 49-passenger bus was arranged by Glenn D. Hancock, the Adirondack Region director for the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, and was scheduled to stop in Lowville and Utica before arriving in Albany with a full complement of demonstrators. Mr. Hancock said he paid all expenses out of his own pocket. Passengers reimbursed him as they climbed aboard.

“I did the work and I’m not even getting a free ride,” Mr. Hancock joked before adding with sincerity, “Everyone on that bus is paying their own way.”

Some passengers brought signs with messages for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, including one that read, “Hey Cuomo! NY Gun owners will remember in November,” but most seemed content just to go along to voice their concerns over a law they think was hastily enacted and deeply flawed.

In an interesting turn of events, the bus trip and rally fell the day after Mr. Cuomo told reporters that lawmakers will consider amending the act to add an exception for movie and television productions.

It’s not yet clear whether amendments for the entertainment industry would apply to “phony,” or prop, guns or whether any changes will even be made.

Residents waiting for the bus found a high degree of irony in the governor’s comments.

“He did this whole thing to prevent gun violence and now he’s out there promoting it,” said Timothy H. Fralick.

Joseph C. Doty, who works at Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station, Oswego, said no exceptions have been made for security officers there who are now bound by law to carry only seven rounds in their magazines.

Robert G. Schultes, a former teacher, pharmaceutical sales representative and father of three children, said he was following the bus in his personal vehicle to protest the law. Mr. Schultes said he understands the concerns surrounding the gun control debate but he objects to the way the NY SAFE Act was passed.

“It doesn’t matter what legislation it was, it would be wrong,” he said. “The governor had an agenda. Due process was forfeited for the needs of political gain, to the detriment of the people who weren’t able to voice their opinion.”

Another bus, organized by the NNY 9/12 group, left for Albany from the Sam’s Club parking lot on outer Arsenal Street bearing more Watertown protesters.

Thousands of gun owners and Second Amendment advocates were on hand in Albany on Thursday for the “lobby day and rally,” which was sponsored by the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association.

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