New York Gun Owners to NRA: 'Sign Us Up'

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

guns (barjack/flickr)

For 14 years, Harry Jacobs has spent just about every weekend at a gun show, signing up members for the National Rifle Association.

That’s a pretty easy job these days.

With the debate over gun control raging across the country following December’s deadly shooting of 26 people at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., many firearm owners are lining up to join the NRA.

“Clinton gave us over a million new members. And Obama’s going to give us a hell of a lot more than that,” Jacobs said, manning an NRA booth at an Albany gun show last weekend.

The show was at the state’s convention center – the same place where just weeks ago Governor Andrew Cuomo gave his State of the State speech calling for a crackdown on high-capacity assault weapons.

Shortly after that speech, Cuomo managed to push through a sweeping gun control bill that, among other things, banned guns with certain military features as well as high capacity magazines.

Now President Obama is hoping to tackle gun control on the federal level.

That meant a busy weekend for Jacobs, who said he normally signs up 120 new or renewing members during the annual two-day Albany show. This year he reached that number mid-way through the first day.

The show, put on by the New York State Arms Collectors Association, drew thousands to the Empire State Plaza Convention Center. The crowd wound its way past tables with antique weapons, brand new hunting rifles and military paraphernalia – including several booths selling swastika-covered Nazi mementos.

But before the crowd could make it to these items, they walked past Jacobs’ booth, just inside the front entrance. As people walked by, he made his pitch: “Anyone else need to join or renew? $10 off and a hat. Help protect your gun rights, tack on a year.”

Chris McClelland was on his way out with his little girl when he stopped to join. McClelland said he’s been hunting and shooting guns since he was a little kid growing up in middle of nowhere. But this is the first time he’s been a card-carrying member of the NRA.

“I’ve been thinking about doing it for a while and I want to support somebody who’s going to help protect my gun rights now that they’re trying to take them,” McClelland said.

And it’s not just adults joining the NRA. A number of parents at the show had their kids join.

The New York Times recently reported that gun rights groups are trying hard to enroll a new generation. Jacobs said his sales and cash donations went to support that effort.

“Everything we sell up here goes for junior membership. For some reason we keep getting older,” he told one man who stopped by the booth.

Pauline Dion also joined. Like others, she is looking for the organization to not just fight possible changes at the federal level, but to get the state law overturned.

Dion owns a rifle that is now considered an illegal assault weapon under the new state law.  She can keep it because she had it before the law passed, but she and other owners are supposed to register the guns with the state.

Dion said she knows some owners who won’t obey.

“They said they’re just not going to comply. They’ve had their guns for 15, 20 years. They’re just not going to comply,” Dion said. “My sister and several of us are writing to sheriff’s offices and such like that and asking if they’re going to enforce that law and a lot of them are saying no, they’ll turn their head the other way.”

Dion said she’s never broken a law in her life and is angry she’s being treated like a criminal. She isn’t sure if she’ll obey the law and register her rifle, she added.

That sense of defiance filled the convention center and show organizers struggled to contain it – or at least keep it from spilling out in front of the media.

The show’s manager, Sandy Ackerman Klinger, tried to keep reporters from walking around the hall and talking to people.

“We don’t like the press just walking around doing their own thing,” she said.

Klinger said she recognized that vendors and buyers have freedom of speech, but added that “we’re afraid of what some of them might say.”

Despite the restrictions, some people at the show did decide to exercise their First Amendment rights.

Standing in front of the NRA table, Tom Cameron voiced his opposition to the New York law, despite the fact he doesn’t actually own any guns that are now considered illegal.

“If you give them bastards the right to take away a semi-automatic gun they’re going to be after your grandfather’s old Browning Automatic 5 shotgun, your 740 Remington Woodsmaster, every gun that’s a semi-automatic, which means you have to pull the trigger each time it shoots. That’s what they’ll go after. You can’t give them an inch,” Cameron said. “This is communism. They want to destroy the constitution of the United States, all the liberals that are out there, all the leftists.”

While Cameron had some of the more extreme comments, people everywhere seemed to be talking about the law. Or they were when they weren’t shopping.

Bullets, 10-round magazines and all manner of guns were flying off tables.

That meant good business for vendor Carol Heath.

“It’s been very busy. People have been looking for .22 ammo, which we are out of, so I haven’t been able to help them with that,” Heath said. “And basically they’re just trying to pick up what they need probably because they have heard that ammo is very short in supply.”

Some customers at the show grumbled that boxes of bullets were double their normal price. But many kept buying. The new state law does require background checks for bullet sales and provides for tracking large buys. But that portion of the law hasn’t gone into effect yet.


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Comments [12]

Saw the reference on a past comment and thought I'd comment(comment: "I was buying into the no reason for hunters to use "assault" rifles, until i started watching "Alaska: the last frontier", '"Yukon Men" or "Alaska State Police" on the Discovery channel. All the homesteaders in Alaska carried semi-automatic" assault "rifles, even when hunting").
Today as well as when I came to Alaska to live in an interior village on the Yukon River 40 years ago, many persons hunt with semi auto 223 cal rifles. The majority of them are being called assault rifles now. Leaving the anti gun debate to more educated persons, the fact is they make very good hunting guns. They are often well made and the 223 caliber is very suited to any animal up to caribou and while I prefer a larger rifle many use it for moose and bear. Ammo is smaller so cheaper and the larger capacity of the magazine simply means one carries all the bullets in one place while one is out for days as is often the case. It does not mean it takes 15 rounds to hunt a single animal. The world may find in it's "wisdom" that these guns are not to be owned but don't think for one minute they have no place in the woods. They are excelent survival tools. This is reality up here. Stan Zuray

Jan. 31 2013 02:07 PM
Mic from San Jose

I recall all the beauty of NY from my short summer drives through the state, especially up state! Wow! All the dear and didn't even know it, all the hunting with NY actually tops! I've read about those gun registration yearly fees and can't believe such a founding state as NY could ever devolve to such repressed citizenship. Many guns are still made in NY too. What irony. Man, get your rights back, please.

Jan. 30 2013 10:02 PM

RUCB_Alum, if the founders wanted only people in active militia service to have arms, the amendment would have ended "the right of the MILITIA to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

Jan. 30 2013 06:47 PM

I re-iterate my intention to Occupy the NRA...It takes 5 years of continued membership in order to be eligible to vote in the election of the Board of Directors. (or you can join as a Lifetime member and vote this year but that is $1,000!) About a third of the Board comes up for election each year. In seven years, with the right-thinking membership we can make the NRA responsive to the will of the American people. This is definitely an area where we can 'flood the gate' with voters who vote down each and every candidate who thinks the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms rather than assuring that militiamen may use arms.

Jan. 30 2013 12:44 PM
Publius from Upstate NY

I would just like to point out that in the study of Logic (Philosophy), you learn about argumentation and the fallacies of argumentation. One of the more well-known and most used fallacies is one known as the “Slippery Slope” argument. Simply stated, the “Slippery Slope” is not based on conclusion, evidence or fact, but rather relies on using fear to persuade the uninitiated listener. Its easy to detect this type of false logic as this fallacy usually includes the phrases “next thing you know” or “before long”. Ironically, the 1st example of this in the Slippery Slope Wikipedia article points to the absurdity of arguments on both sides of the gun control issue. I encourage anyone who is unfamiliar with this fallacy (or Logic in general) to read the Wikipedia article.
If any move in a particular policy or political direction meant that the extreme outcome on that continuum was a certainty, it would be in everyone’s best interest to never make any changes; clearly this is not the case in reality. If it was, even our beloved U.S. Constitution would not have been written because the Framers would have thought, ‘We can’t give ANY power to the Federal government to levy taxes, because if we do, the next thing you know, they will be taking 100% of our pay.” I encourage folks to study these fallacies, Logic, and rhetoric (which means artful speech not incendiary or empty speech like too many believe). This education has served me well in these times where most media organizations (NPR excepted) have a financial motive to serve their specific agenda. News, in most cases, is no longer news, but rather info-tainment. This is partly why its so important to have an education which includes Philosophy. Logic is the science which teaches us how to form clear and distinct ideas, and prevents us from being misled by similitude and resemblances. Fallacies of argumentation are used so commonly that not understanding them allows one to be misled almost constantly.

Jan. 30 2013 12:20 PM
rich from Brooklyn

I am very proud of NYC's ability to keep crime under control, there are so many benefits, economic & social but at what price?
Active police action, cameras on every corner, plans for drones to watch everything we do.
A free population has every right to defend itself and not with pea shooters.
The founding Fathers understood if you give up all your responsibilties to central control you are no longer free, period. Maybe more comfortable! but not free! Choose America! Choose.
For me, today, I'm joining the NRA and ACLU.

Jan. 30 2013 11:10 AM
Doris from The Bronx, New York

What is it all these gun owners are protecting themselves against? Each other?

Jan. 30 2013 10:28 AM
Citizen Jayne from New York

Ha! Of course they are afraid of what these people will say:

The show’s manager, Sandy Ackerman Klinger, tried to keep reporters from walking around the hall and talking to people.

“We don’t like the press just walking around doing their own thing,” she said.

Klinger said she recognized that vendors and buyers have freedom of speech, but added that “we’re afraid of what some of them might say.”

Jan. 30 2013 10:25 AM
Antonia Gilligan from Emerson, NJ

A brief comment on the belief that "assault rifles" are military weapons. Therefore, they are inappropriate for civilian use. This view overlooks several facts that are missing from the current dialogue. The AR-15 and its variant platforms are the most common "assault rifle". They are not a military weapon. Semiautomatic weapons are not used by any military. They use automatic weapons or selective fire guns (firing a single shot or multiple shots), which have a far higher rate of fire ( 10 times as much).

The '"assault rifle" characteristics includes a bayonet lug. Who was killed by a bayonet in the last 25 years? A folding butt stock? These have been around for years on civilian firearms. A pistol grip stock may be regulated, but what about thumb hole stocks, which provide the same firm grip? A flash suppressor reduces the glare of the fired rifle to preserve the shooter's vision in low light conditions.

But here is the big point, gun owners may want the latest "style". Guns types are also "fashionable items" The .357 and .44 magnum had a big spike about 35 plus years with the arrival of the "Dirty Harry" movies. A similar thing has happened to AR's.

We have in effect two cultures an urban and a rural culture. The needs of these two communities are different. I have a friend who was laid-off during the 2008 crash. The wife was real estate agent in upstate New York. Not exactly a condition for high cash flow. The next two winters they lived on venison and fed themselves and three growing boys. Urban people may find this different but I assume it makes little difference to the animal. They just assume the animal jumped into the Styrofoam tray and cellophane. City dwellers don't think of what a rural life may hold.

If you are a Pennsylvanian farmer in the western end of the state, feral hogs ( boar) are tearing up your crops. The AR is the weapon of choice. The boar move in groups of 3-8 primarily at night. The boar have significant defenses including tusks, sharp hoofs and lots of muscle. They will attack a human. They are commonly hunted at night. So with multiple threats, a large magazine has many benefits. Finally, on a closing note, even if the magazine is limited to 7 rounds, all you have to do is tape two together. They can be inverted to provide 15 shots (with one in the chamber). A little manual dexterity will eliminate the usefulness of small magazines since a magazine switch can be done in 2-3 seconds.

I don't have any magic solutions but violating the confidential doctor patient relationship is the start of a decline of honest patient doctor dialogue and may be constitutions issue. Mental health in America is a joke. Background checks for sure but does that include a farther giving a weapon to his daughter?

Antonia Gilligan
Emerson, NJ

Jan. 30 2013 08:26 AM
joelle from NYC

Please, don't bring your guns to New York, just stay where you are Mark and Sam.

Jan. 30 2013 08:09 AM
Sam from Washington D.C.

Gun Control is making your home safer for criminals one law at a time.

Jan. 30 2013 05:43 AM
Mark from Pa

The facist state of new york strikes again you cant smoke on the street without getting fined. You want to buy a big gulp? Too bad those are banned now im sorry I thought new york was part of America the former land of the free and now its illegal for law abiding New Yorkers to own guns. There starting small with military wepons and mags but its only a matter of time before there all outlawed then only outlaws will own them WAKE UP AMERICA

Jan. 30 2013 05:21 AM

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