By GAVIN PATERNITI
Special to the OBSERVER
FREWSBURG - Area residents are taking a stand in the fight to protect their Second Amendment rights.
Photo by Gavin Paterniti
A gun appreciation rally attendee holds a sign making known his opinions of Gov. Cuomo’s gun-control bill.
On Saturday, hundreds of hunters, veterans and gun-rights advocates converged on Frewsburg's Blue Building for a gun appreciation rally.
The rally, which ran from noon to 4 p.m., was held in correlation with a nationwide protest against the recent tightening of gun laws. The protest is known as ".223 Day of Resistance," an allusion to a type of ammunition, and a response to a 23-executive action anti-gun violence package that was signed into law by President Obama on Jan. 16. Additionally, a gun-control bill, passed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last month, has now made New York state's gun laws among the most stringent in the nation.
The Frewsburg rally was coordinated by Tami Downey, a Kiantone resident. According to Downey, the rally is not officially affiliated with ".223 Day of Resistance," but is intended as a two-pronged approach to resisting these executive actions.
"On one hand, we want to send a message to (Gov. Cuomo) that, even down here in little Chautauqua County, we're not impressed," said Downey, who will be running for county legislator this fall. "On the other hand, it's really about the community. We have a very good hunting community here and a very good conservative community here. And what I wanted to do is bring the community together to start supporting ... and networking one another. I think that the government is going to continue to try to take away our rights, as they can get to it, and that's not OK.
"We as a community need to stand together and support one another. Instead of just one or two people saying, 'I'm going to go to this or that meeting,' we need to go as a whole community.
"The other thing I wanted to do was support our veterans, our retired police officers and our current police officers," she added. "They live in our community, and we want them to know that we support them ... We're going to support them because we're going to do what's right and that's what's constitutional. And that's more important than following what the governor says, which is not constitutional."
The rally itself began with comments from guest speakers, including state Assemblyman Andy Goodell, and representatives from the offices of state Sen. Cathy Young and Congressman Tom Reed. Goodell and Young both voted against Cuomo's gun-control bill. Following dignitary comments, community members from the audience were invited to speak their minds.
Among the rally attendees was Ron Lemon, a former legislator from Frewsburg. According to Lemon, he is currently waiting for an interview to get his pistol permit.
"I just took my pistol permit class and filed to get my pistol permit because it's that important to me," he said. "I'd never done it prior to now. But with everything going on, I know that the pistol permit clerk office (in Mayville) is the busiest office in the (Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office) building. I have to wait five months to get in to get my interview, which tells you how backed up they are.
"Our state officials and our federal officials need to know that this is not (a situation where) we're just going to stand by and not go down without a fight," he added. "We will step up and we will have our voices be heard. And I think it's tremendous that Tami has stepped up to organize this. And (the turnout) is tremendous. To me, the turnout tells you how important this is to people. Gun rights are not about hunting, they're about the right to defend ourselves from a tyrannical government."
The rally was attended by various gun clubs, shooting groups, veterans groups, trapping organizations and political action groups. The event was sponsored by Downey, David Clement, Cheryl and Carl Fiedler and Jim Allison. Attendees were asked to make a $1 donation for the Tompkins family of Frewsburg, whose home was recently lost to a fire.