The head of New York state’s largest firearms advocacy organization won’t attend yet another planned anti-gun control rally in Albany on Tuesday. Thomas King told The New York Daily News that he worries about the rhetoric at these events is becoming more “contentious and threatening.”
“Let all these other groups go out and do what they want to do, because they don’t want to listen anyway,” King told the newspaper. “I just don’t want to be a party to anything that may happen.”
Numerous large rallies have been held over the past year to voice opposition to the SAFE Act, the package of strict new gun regulations that Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed in 2013. King is president of the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association (NYSRPA), as well as a national NRA board member. The NYSRPA, which bill’s itself as the nation’s oldest firearms advocacy organization, is also the official NRA-affiliated state association in New York.
In the past, the group has been a key organizer of the events in Albany. According to the Daily News, the rally on Tuesday is scheduled to feature Donald Trump, Republican gubernatorial hopeful Rob Astorino, and Carl Paladino — the Republican who lost to Cuomo in 2010.
In an email recently sent out to 100,000 people, King explained his reasons for not attending the event, according to the Daily News. King wrote that the rallies were “preaching to the choir,” and that no minds would be changed by people “screaming obscenities at Cuomo and certainly at large rallies where people stand on stage, pound their chest and tell the attendees to prepare for war.”
“We do not make threats, we do not tell people to prepare for war nor do we sell bumper stickers that proclaim ‘BALLOTS or BULLETS,'” King wrote.
King pledged that his group will not work with organizations “that we feel will be detrimental to our efforts to restore 2nd Amendment freedoms to New York State.” Instead of rallies, King wrote, his group would now focus on getting the SAFE Act overturned in court.