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Hamburg anti-SAFE Act sign (courtesy

A large number of New Yorkers would like legislators to repeal the gun control laws known collectively as the SAFE Act. An estimated 1m Empire State residents failed to register their “assault weapons” with the state, in accordance with the Act’s stipulations. They’ve got to be pretty dead set against the law. Now I’m not saying that Hamburg residents Scott Zawieruch and Gary Bridges are amongst their number, but they are anti-SAFE Act. And they’re not shy about sharing that sentiment . . .

The two men put up posters expressing their displeasure – on the outside of their fences! In the quiet town of 56,936 souls (excluding the not-so-quiet visitors to the Hamburg Fairgrounds and Casino), that’s strictly verboten! As reports.

In March, Scott Zawierucha appeared before a judge. On Friday, Gary Bridges appeared in court. Both were summoned for hanging signs to their fences.

“If you don’t like it, you don’t have to look at it,” says Bridges, who believes this violates the First Amendment.

Dozens of gun rights activists came to support Bridges. They believe those fighting the controversial SAFE Act are being targeted.


However, Hamburg Town Supervisor Steven Walters says it is not going after SAFE Act protesters, and adds that the town also took an official stance requesting that New York repeal the controversial gun control law.

Walters adds that the code was created a long time ago, and it is under review.

I’m not optimistic. According to Wikipedia, “the Village of Hamburg became one of the first communities in the nation to have compulsory curbside recycling.” The “Town That Friendship Built” prides itself on looking clean and tidy. Even Zawieruch’s relatively demure sign goes against the grain.

“People do have the right free speech, so there has to be that balancing act,” Walters says.

It’s the same calculation New York lawmakers used to pass the SAFE Act, twenty minutes after it was introduced.

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    • When you stop waiting, please come pick me up in your hovercar. I need to a ride to Kepler 17b.

    • The ACLU has done 2A cases in the past. That is to say, they didn’t just sign up for a 1A case that affected 2A rights, they actually went for a straight up 2A case. It involved public housing residents having their right to keep and bear denied by anti-gun administrators. The ACLU won the case.

      Yes, I am too lazy to look it up.

    • I covered this in my law journal piece that was posted earlier, but I’ll bring it up again for those 1st Amendment enthusiasts. The facts of this case are very similar to City of Ladue v. Gilleo. Here is the citation if anyone wants to go check out the facts: 512 U.S. 43 (1994).

  1. @ Dirk. Your going to be much older and I’m going to have a lot more greys before ACLU steps up for 2A or anyone exercising another right to support the 2A. I will eat my words if they step in.

    • don’t forget – gay rights. ACLU has to support this type of speech if they want to be able to get the speech they really want

      • So, if his sign said “Repeal the SAFE Act, and Support Marriage Equality” he’d be ok?


  2. If I lived in NYS, I would put up that sign too. Right after I buried all my non-compliant items offsite.

  3. Are there more acts of civil disobedience lately or am I just hearing about them more frequently? I like to think it’s the former.

    • This is historically predictable. People are starting to stand up to tyranny. Unless the government does a 180, this may continue to increase until it reaches Maya scary critical mass. If you are a history buff like myself, grab the popcorn because it may get really interesting soon.

  4. I see anti-SAFE Act signs all over the place up here, completely unmolested. Hell there’s currently one on my front lawn and the only reason it looks beat up is that it’s been out there all winter and partially buried until now. No one has confronted me or the landlord about it either.

  5. This is why every gun owner in NY and CT needs to wake up this year and VOTE! No excuses, if you have a firearm in those states and don’t vote you should smash your guns, send back your NRA membership and join MAIG.

    Our current moron governor won by a super slim margin, slimmer than the CCDL’s membership, say nothing of the NRA’s, and all the rod and gun clubs!

  6. If you add the words “balancing act” to a right, you are saying it is not really a right. How much can you “balance” before the right is gone? Not being able to put up political signs in your yard in protest is infringing on your right to free speech.

    • Well, yes and no.

      The first amendment has the “Fire!” in a theater thing, and the 4th Amendment has the exigent circumstances thing. There are other examples.

      THESE balances at least make some semblance of sense. For example, the exigent circumstance exception to needing a warrant to enter a private home is “reasonable” if life is in imminent danger.

      The problem is one of degree and who gets to to decide. And, there is also a problem if folks misrepresent these exceptions to further other ancillary political causes (such as claiming an assault weapons ban is the 2A version of “Fire!” for the 1A…which it’s not for a number of reasons).

        • Disorderly conduct often shuts down “absolute” free speech based on how it annoys others; the court has gotten around this by putting a special fence around political speech, but I don’t think we can say that the 1st Amendment is any more absolute than the 2nd in practice.

        • I get the point of that article, that the quote is taken out of context and all that, but…

          Are you suggesting that if I go into a theater and yell “FIRE!” and someone is killed in the subsequent stampede that in my ‘wrongful death’ trial, I can simply claim “I have a First Amendment Right to Free Speech and that’s that” as my defense?

          It won’t fly. Sure…it’s because it’s not a 1A issue (Congress did not pass a law, etc), but the point of the idea behind bringing it up is that there are things 1A does not “protect” us from that have to do with verbalizations and utterances.

          Maybe it was not the best example to make my point, but as to my specific point, it does still stand. That is, you cannot say anything anywhere without consequence due to some kind of “First Amendment Protection.”

          As I said, there are other examples with the other amendments…hearsay allowed at trial when it’s a deathbed utterance, for example (though to be weighed as such by the finders of fact), etc.

          But, all that aside…thanks much for posting that link. I’m a big fan of correcting myths and misconceptions and in that regard; that was interesting reading.

          • “Are you suggesting that if I go into a theater and yell “FIRE!” and someone is killed in the subsequent stampede that in my ‘wrongful death’ trial, I can simply claim “I have a First Amendment Right to Free Speech and that’s that” as my defense?”

            You can do anything you want to. If what you do results in harm, you are fully accountable for whatever harm your irresponsible actions caused. If someone dies in the stampede, technically, you could be charged with manslaughter.

    • Rights should not be subject to political whimsy. Yet that is exactly what the Third Circuit Court of Appeals did I Drake–holding that the courts should not interfere in legislative judgments as to the existence of “public safety”. This stance allows legislatures to decide what rights we can enjoy, yet the whole point of the ten amendments is to take those choices out of the hands of political bodies.

  7. What the hell happened to America? Some parts of this fine nation are literally beyond hope.

  8. People of NY, throw your dictators out, they violated your trust and Constitution. Also you just might take action to remove politically correct judges from the bench!

    • I’m still waiting for some kind of “progress” report on all the new felons that just got created in NY and CT. Are they doing any enforcement? Are they all just sitting there, waiting for the other side to make the first move? Will a DGU make a big media splash? Inquiring minds want to know.

  9. This is welcome news, it will only ensure that more people put more signs up. Any publicity for the petty tyrants these days helps us. You can avoid death by a thousand cuts if you see it happening and start to end the cuts.

  10. The interaction of speech and arms is one we should really press.

    The heckler’s veto is one that really relies on inciting a threat of mob violence to stifle speech. The prominence of that kind of mob group-think attack in internet discussion is precisely the perception of zero consequences for the worst kind of behavior. If pulling that crap could credibly result in a immediate targeted DDOS attack to the offender’s IP address – there would be far less of it, and thus far less need to consider using it in the first place.

    The whole point of public arms is to REMOVE the utility of violence from public disputes and debates. A gun on a speaker’s hip — makes a clear deterrent to the uses of mere physical or numerical superiority to stop discussion. Such intimidation becomes far more problematic and thus less likely to occur.

    If all are armed, then we provide a space in which resort to personal or mob violence or the threat of them are no longer dominant or even possible. We have a space to reason, entreat and indeed, perhaps even try to shame one another into decent positions or behavior — because we have fewer means to impose our will by simple threats of force.

    Open carry is far more valuable than concealed carry in this regard. Look what happens to people’s rowdy behavior when the cops with openly holstered weapons show up. If a few of the more sober folks were around armed to begin with, we’d have even less of it.

    “An armed society is a polite society.” Heinlein was right.

  11. The answer is simple.

    Mount the signs on long 2×2’s a foot inside the fence, on the property, that protrude above the fence.

    If the ordinance deals specifically with placing signs on the fences, then the Hamburg is cooked!

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