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Trump, Astorinio, Paladino at pro-gun rally in Albany

Updated: 04/01/2014 7:17 PM
Created: 04/01/2014 9:02 AM WNYT.com
By: Steve Flamisch

ALBANY – An estimated 3,500 people rallied Tuesday at Empire State Plaza, demanding the repeal of the New York SAFE Act and the ouster of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Though a federal judge ruled the expanded ban on assault weapons is constitutional, the protestors said they are not giving up their fight.

"The SAFE Act is unconstitutional," Michelle Chiaverini, of Penn Yan, told NewsChannel 13. "I'm here to support that it be repealed."

The protestors have a supporter in billionaire businessman Donald Trump, who flew in by helicopter to address the crowd. Trump announced that he has a pistol permit.

"I'm a big Second Amendment person," Trump said. "I'm a big, strong believer in it… I wanted to be here to support you. I’ll be with you no matter where you are."

In a six-minute speech, Trump talked about a range of issues – corruption, energy, the economy – but he said not a word about his political aspirations.

Trump recently said he is not running against Gov. Cuomo. But that did not stop Carl Paladino from referring to Trump as "the next governor of New York State."

ROB ASTORINO ASKS FOR SUPPORT

Paladino, whom Cuomo defeated in the 2010 election, later stumbled when talking about the Republican who is running this year: Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.

"Rob Astorino's a good guy," Paladino said. "He's a good man. But we need somebody that's going to get elected. Excuse me. We have to win."

When Astorino took the stage, he needled Paladino: "I love Carl, but Carl is crazy if he doesn’t think we can win this race."

Astorino declared his support for the gun owners, and he spoke briefly about high taxes and other issues. Then, referencing Cuomo’s massive campaign fund, Astorino asked for help.

"His average contribution is about $27,000," Astorino said. "We'll take your $27. We'll take your $270. We'll take anything."

Cuomo – whom some protestors compared to Adolf Hitler and human feces – said very little about the rally during an unrelated press conference at the Capitol.

"It’s a topic that drives strong emotions, like many topics -- a woman’s right to choose, strong emotions -- so I understand it," Cuomo said. "But it’s the nature of the discussion."

TOM KING ATTENDS, AFTER ALL

Despite a published report that he would not go, New York State Rifle and Pistol Association President Tom King attended the rally.

The New York Daily News reported Monday that King would skip the protest because the rhetoric at pro-gun rallies is becoming too "contentious and threatening."

King told NewsChannel 13 that he should have been clearer in his comments to the newspaper, and that he merely decided to go as a spectator – and not a speaker.

King cited legal concerns. The Rifle and Pistol Association’s lawsuit seeking to overturn the SAFE Act is currently in the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals, he said.

"Our lawyers have advised us not to (participate in the rally)," he said. "Last February, things that I said at the rally… were used in Amicus briefs trying to disqualify us from the lawsuit."

As to his comment about the rhetoric of some protestors, King said, "Gun owners are good people, and we don’t need a few who are over-exuberant to ruin it for the rest of us."

In the end, the rally Tuesday at Empire State Plaza was peaceful. There were no incidents and no arrests, according to a statement issued by New York State Police.

Albany

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