By Kephra Rubin, reprinted with permission.
About eight or nine years ago I was an anti-gunner. I thought guns were for cowards and I encouraged the gun bans. I could list statistics, but they’re readily available, the point is it wasn’t until I actually stopped and read the research that I realized how wrong I was. When common sense is present, the truth prevails. I no longer consider myself an anti-gunner, yet the irony was clear as I headed to Albany.
I decided to stand for what is right and attended the February 28th protest to repeal the SAFE act. It was what I would call a life changing experience.
Traditional media tried to downplay the turnout by photographing people arriving well before the official start of the rally.
The next day, every newspaper I could find posted photos of a dismal crowd which made the turnout seem rather bland. In truth, the crowd they photographed had formed a full hour and a half before the rally had officially started. I know because I watched the photographers take the pictures. Also, the only close up shots I could find were of the more… colorful people that attended. Out of twelve thousand people, there were about fifty oddballs, and only two enthusiastically odd ones. Go to a PETA rally and see how quickly those numbers rise in comparison.
I can say with pride that while I was there I met people from all walks of life, some people so poor I was amazed they sacrificed the twenty five dollars let alone the day without pay to attend the rally. Some were so rich and dressed in expensive suits, I was surprised they were willing to get their clothes muddy on account of all the rain. Perhaps even more shocking was the hundreds of people who did not even own firearms, but had been around long enough to know that one freedom rarely gets taken without more on the horizon.
We held such vast numbers, as the rally officially began, our numbers grew until we had to fill the street, and eventually spill out onto side streets and spread to nearby rooftops.
We stood, shoulder to shoulder in the cold mud and rain, faced the Capitol Building, and together we spoke, and as we spoke, their windows rattled to the sound of, “We will not comply.”
What was expected to be a small event, became what Senators said was the “largest gathering for any cause in over thirty years” in Albany. It was like nothing they had ever seen.
More and more officials filed their way into the line that grew longer and longer as they waited for their turn to speak.
When Greg Ball came up, it was interesting. Almost instantly, the rainclouds parted and the sun began to shine. He spoke of his frustrations of working in a “vile and disgusting” profession such as politics. He admitted that he was not sure how much longer he would be in it, but promised he would fight for us. I’ll admit, he regurgitated his “I’ll fight until hell freezes over, and then I’ll fight on the ice” speech a little, but it was still inspiring.
The rally was life changing for me because of a realization I had thanks to what our representatives had to say. The ultimate message that was sent by our elected officials, put as politely as they could muster, was that we have no one to blame but ourselves. This is a battle for inches. We gave up many inches in the past and said to ourselves, “Well, what do we need fully automatic weapons for, anyway?” “Well, if you can’t solve it with ten rounds, you probably won’t solve it in thirty.” We tried to be reasonable, and we gave the inches because we thought we were dealing with reasonable people. Then they told us we could only use seven round magazines. Most guns do not offer a seven round magazine. While certain ones do offer a five round, plenty do not offer anything less than ten. So, we began to see what it really was; a move to ban most weapons without openly seeming that way. Soon, we could see, the rest would follow until all firearms would be banned.
Yet, somehow we looked at the SAFE ACT as something new. On that cold February day, I realized, it was in fact decades in the making. For decades, we allowed ourselves to be backed into a corner. Now, we fight to own what we have already purchased.
It dawned on me that so many officials had fought for so many different inches and lost, because we, the more than twelve thousand people who did not pay attention in previous years, allowed them to fight countless battles alone.
I’ll admit, that at least for me, I never thought small town politics mattered. Now, I realize the simple fact that New York is a collection of counties, and these counties are attempting to fight back against injustice. Over half of New York State has already issued declarations that they will not enforce the SAFE ACT. Half the remaining counties have proposed similar non-compliance. Dutchess County, for instance, will be voting on the decision to solidify a non compliance proposal this Thursday, March 7th at 5:45pm on the 6th floor of the County Office Building in Poughkeepsie.
As of this writing, no county has voiced favor toward the SAFE ACT, a handful have simply chosen to remain silent.
So, the quest begins for us to get back in touch with our communities, attend local political events and vote on the small scale, to fight for those inches that at the time seem so insignificant, so that miles are not taken from us, or our children. Check your local areas for similar votes on non-compliance proposals and let your local officials know you want to oppose the SAFE ACT. Do this in a polite, and intellectual manner.
We Will Not Comply,