Republicans, Democrats clash over impact for those carrying guns on park’s public lands
By Gwendolyn Craig
In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that New York’s concealed carry law was unconstitutional, Gov. Kathy Hochul and state lawmakers passed new firearm legislation in a special session last week that has Democrats and Republicans at odds over how it will impact Adirondack Park residents.
The firearms legislation Hochul signed July 1 makes it a felony to possess a firearm, rifle or shotgun in a sensitive location. A sensitive location, according to the bill text, includes public parks, schools, places of worship and any businesses serving alcohol, to name a few. The new law, set to take effect Sept. 1, does not apply to “persons lawfully engaged in hunting activity including hunter education training,” and does not apply to law enforcement. There are some other exceptions outlined in Assembly bill A41001.
Republican lawmakers including U.S. Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, and state Sen. Dan Stec, R-Queensbury, say “public parks” include the public and private 6-million-acre Adirondack Park. They slammed the legislation this week, saying it has ostracized the 130,000 people living in the Adirondacks.
“This is classic Albany Democrat behavior,” Stec said in a statement. “Because of this rushed, politically motivated law, thousands of men and women in our region could now be considered criminals.”
Stefanik called the legislation unconstitutional and “a direct attack on the law-abiding and patriotic citizens of the North Country and the Adirondack Park.”
Democrats, including Hochul, say that’s not the case.
The Adirondack Park is made up of 2.6 million acres of state-owned lands and about 3.4 million acres of private lands. State-owned lands in the Adirondacks and Catskills are called forest preserve and are protected under the state Constitution. New York’s state parks are managed separately. The new firearms legislation does not reference forest preserve.
Jim Urso, spokesperson for Hochul, said the law “changes nothing for lawful gun owners” on either forest preserve or private lands of the Adirondacks and Catskills. “These areas are not considered ‘sensitive locations’ under the law,” Urso said. “However there will be sensitive locations within these areas, like playgrounds and hospitals, consistent with locations outlined in the law for every other part of the state.”
“The Republican Party now openly embraces lies and misconceptions. This new legislation, reacting to an extremist Supreme Court, simply deals with the concealed and carry law,” said Mike Murphy, communications director of the state Senate Democratic majority, pointing to the exceptions for hunting in the law.
The office of State Sen. Liz Krueger, D-New York City and chair of the Senate Finance Committee, said the bill is not as broad as Stefanik and others are making it seem.
“Our reading of the bill is that it only bans concealed carry in the areas of the Adirondack Park that are used for public recreation,” a spokesperson for Krueger said. “If someone lives within the Park and they keep a gun in their home or place of business that they are otherwise legally permitted to possess, they will not run afoul of this statute.”
Hochul has charged state police and the state Department of Environmental Conservation to issue guidance. Environmental conservation officers received some of that legal guidance earlier this week, said Matt Krug, a conservation officer and representative with the New York Police Benevolent Association.
Giving hunting a shot
Diversity among the Adirondack hunting community is growing and may increase in the next generation if the counties within the Blue Line follow projected trends.
Krug said hunters will need to be extra careful under the new law that they are not trespassing, or they could be charged with a felony. If they are hunting on private lands, the lands must be posted with signs that say the owner allows firearms. Krug said those with year-round hunting licenses may still carry firearms on some public lands if they are hunting unprotected species such as red squirrels, porcupines and woodchucks. He also warned that hunters stopping for gas or food will have to lock up their unloaded firearm and keep it separated from ammunition.
Krug was skeptical that the law would see much enforcement in the Adirondacks considering staff numbers. Over the Fourth of July weekend, Krug said he and one other officer covered 4,000 square-miles in Washington, Warren and southern Essex counties.
“We are understaffed so the chances of them being caught is very little,” Krug said.
Krug said there were many gray areas and serious concerns with the law, and he expected legal challenges in the near future.
“We deal with more armed law-abiding citizens than any other agency, and mostly without incident,” Krug said. “Some of it is very confusing. It’s going to be very hard for the vast majority of the law-abiding public. … Conservation officers will be using a large amount of discretion when enforcing these laws.”
“changes nothing for lawful gun owners” – if these gun owners need to get special permits to obtain a common hunting rifle like a semi-automatic 22 rifle for rabbit hunting, or other popular deer hunting rifles, and some shotguns – how does this “change nothing”?
The correct law and the one that would fit with the ruling would be to have the default be that you can carry a gun and if the owner does not want you to carry a gun you post that. That is how just about everything works when it come to posting. You post what you DON’T want someone to do – trespass, stomp on the grass, park whatever…
These lawmakers know this they are smart people, but they want to do crazy things like this to keep their voters pumped up.
Please, once and for all, work on legislation that will help with the problem and won’t just get tossed out in court and cost the tax payers more money we don’t have.
The 2nd amendment was written very simply. The right cannot be infringed upon. The Supreme Court has delivered a decision stating that New York State previous pistol policies were unconstitutional. New York States response was to present more policies that make it very difficult to conceal carry in a functional way. Basically a person with a CCW can carry a pistol while walking down or driving down public access roads. They cannot go into stores or enter properties that are not clearly marked as weapon permitted zones. Essentially a person can CCW if they want to walk around or drive around without stopping anywhere. It makes the CCW practically useless.
Well, it does say the right to bear arms is to provide for a well regulated militia. So where’s the militia? So, not so simple after all.
“Conservation officers will be using a large amount of discretion when enforcing these laws.”
Yeah that’s just what we want when determining if someone is abiding by the law or committing a felony.
Mike V says
I thought NYS already had some really stupid laws but this takes the cake. “If they are hunting on private lands, the lands must be posted with signs that say the owner allows firearms.” So as I read this, if I lease private land to hunt on the owner must post the land saying I can legally walk on the land to hunt with a gun? How moronic is that.
wow, overturn and hockel and cronies immediately set another clearly half-thought idea and violation of rights, with hugely vague regulations.
Time for new governer, stop making NYS residents pay for NYC. make laws to combat illegal importing of fire arms, not attack law abiding citizens every time. millions of legal gun owners, but a few nuts go crazy and label everyone as criminals with new laws, soon only criminals will have guns and everyone else is a victim.
Why don’t they work on low hanging fruit… like NYC! It’s illegal to carry any weapons BUT they sure do! There’s more illegal conceal carry down here than any other part of the state. The proof is in the amount of shootings of opposing gang members, women with babies in carriages etc.,. Why clean that up when they can go north and bust in law abiding citizens!!! New Yorkers VOTE – VOTE- VOTE!
As for the inconvenience this law is supposed to cause, it can’t be any more inconvenient then getting killed in a supermarket or having to identify your dead child from the clothing they were wearing because they were blown apart while sitting at their school desk. The people whining are the same people who insist that they have a right to carry any weapon anywhere they want to. I don’t care two cents about any inconvenience caused to people who insist they’ve got a right to carry an ar-15 along with mags that carry 30-100 rounds. Enough with being pushed around by the NRA and it’s employees aka the republican party.
I believe that the high capacity magazine that was used in the Buffalo shooting is illegal in NYS. The shooter was carrying this illegally. NYS hastily passed another law in reaction to something like this that says you can only load 7 shells into any magazine despite its capacity. Pointless waste of political capital. Nobody is ‘whining’ – here as I see it. Most are simply saying that rushing to pass several unconstitutional laws is probably not the way to go about solving this problem. Everyone (who is sane) wants these sort of things to stop.
Jon Doe says
This isn’t about carrying around an “AR-15” it’s about the concealed carry and having to deal with the government “infringe” on our given rights!
LeRoy Hogan says
“makes it a felony to possess a firearm, rifle or shotgun in a sensitive location. A sensitive location, according to the bill text, includes public parks, schools, places of worship and any businesses serving alcohol, to name a few”
Looks like I better not live in the Adirondack Park with weapons in my house.
Alan G West says
This is a knee jerk reaction by a moron of a governor and democrat controlled legislature, without addressing the real problem. This legislation is a violation of my second ammendment rights !
Stephen Hall says
The Second Amendment was ratified in 1791, as part of the Bill of Rights, and reads “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The Continental Army was disbanded after the victory over the Brits, so the U.S. had no standing army in 1791, hence the reference to a well regulated militia. As Shay’s Rebellion and the Whiskey Rebellion demonstrated, the new nation had no way to protect itself against self styled revolutionaries, who would try to overthrow the new government. The point of the second amendment was not to allow individual civilians to attack government representatives, but to allow states the ability to have well regulated militias to protect state rights and preserve the union.
In 1791, the most efficient firearm was a musket, which in the right skilled hands, could fire three musket balls per minute. Owing to the shape of the round, and the effect gravity had on its forward motion, and given the fact that there was no rear site, other than your eyeball, the musket was notoriously inefficient, and when fired at a human being with the hope of hitting an area of about 20” by 20”, had an effective range of maybe 50 yards.
In 1791, firearms were required to place food on the table, and were also used to attack native American settlements and neighbors, or to defend against such attacks.
The M16 I carried in Vietnam in 1968, could fire up to 800 rounds per minute, and had an effective range of 550 yards. Meanwhile, we have the most powerful military in the world, which is hardly a surprise, given the fact that our defense budget is more than twice as large as our nearest fellow world powers. And yet 2nd amendment advocates believe these are all incidental facts, and that had the Founding Fathers had any idea how firearms would develop, they would still have believed that American citizens should be able to own just about any weapons.
It sounds like they wanted you to have access to the most efficient weapons of the time. Maybe we don’t anymore but they apparently did then? Precedent shows that we now understand the second amendment to mean that you are able to carry guns for self-defensive purposes (you can disagree with that but that is the federal law currently). Should you only be allowed to own less efficient weapons for this purpose? We could have a new amendment that that repeals the second, like the 21st did for the 18th. Apparently there is supposedly lots of support for gun control is now the time?
It is true says
Guns aren’t the problem. We all know what the real cause of the vast majority of violent crime here in America is but nobody wants to say it. Black males aged 14-34 make up about 2% of the US population yet account for about 60% of all the violent crime. Blacks commit vastly inordinate amounts of crime and are over represented in every category of crime aside from white collar financial crimes (go figure). Go look it up in the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting statistics.
you dont need to know my name says
With the new law that you signed into effect on july 1st is affecting the people of the adirondack park and nobody likes the law. Your law is affecting families that hunt as a culture and for a way to have food in their house. The other question here is why does possessing a firearm off your own property have to be against the law because how are hunters gonna get their guns cleaned to make sure it’s safe for them to hunt with. I also had another question about the law so my parents are divorced and i want to go hunting with my father but the hunting rifle I use is in my mothers name how am i gonna use it like does my mother have to write a note or a signed document saying that i have the right to use the firearm with my father since they are divorced because you have not stated clearly how divorced people with kids who hunt have a way to hunt and when i read the law saying that it would be a felony and or a misdemeanor if we have the gun off of are own property how are we gonna transport it? What you’re doing is setting law abiding citizens to break the law to do what they love, which is hunting and what you’re doing is basically ruining a culture of the Adirondack people who have been born to hunt which a culture is passed down by family members. I also have a question of why should the people who live in the Adirondack park have to suffer from nothing they have done to affect or hurt someone with a firearm which mostly happens in the major cities.There should be different laws set for the adirondack park then for NYC we shouldn’t have to suffer because of something we haven’t even done. Also guns aren’t the problem its the person operating the gun.