Democrats Introduce Gun Law Tweaks

Sen. Jeremy Cooney, D-Rochester, is pictured speaking on the state Senate floor earlier this year.

Republicans were quick to call for changes to gun legislation passed by the state Legislature in June.

It appears their Democratic Party colleagues, at least in the state Senate, were listening.

Two bills have been introduced this week by Sen. Jeremy Cooney, D-Rochester, and Sen. John Mannion, D-Syracuse, seeking to remove some places listed as sensitive places in the June gun legislation. Cooney’s S.9600 proposes to amend the June gun laws by allowing firearm safety shooting instruction at a camp regulated by state Public Health Law or at an approved shooting range as long as instruction is being provided by a certified shooting instructor. Cooney also proposes allowing authorized persons who have to deal with an emergency wildlife situation — like a rabid raccoon approaching campers — to use a gun as long as they are authorized by the state DEC, state Health Department or other law enforcement agency.

“This bill, which provides an exemption to the 2022 law for persons engaged in firearm safety shooting instruction and wildlife control or management, both protects current camp programming and clarifies that camp staff have the means to keep their campers safe. These camps are an important part of many New Yorkers’ lives, and the state should do what it can to provide clarity regarding safe firearms use in camp grounds,” Cooney wrote.

Similar bills have been introduced since July, including a bipartisan bill (A.10578) introduced in the Assembly by Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon, D-Utica-Rome, and in the Senate (S.8954) by Sen. Rob Ortt, R-Buffalo and Senate minority leader, and co-sponsored by Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay. That bill would allow shooting instruction by qualified firearms instructors. Another bill, A.10701/S.9530, is sponsored by Assemblyman Jeff Gallahan, R-Geneva, and Sen. Pam Helming, R-Geneva, authorizes the possession of a firearm, shotgun or rifle in certain sport shooting and target practice facilities; provides that current restrictions on possession of a firearm, shotgun or rifle shall not include otherwise lawful possession for the purpose of participating in shooting sports, including practice and competition. That bill is supported by both Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown, and Borrello.

Mannion’s bill, S.9602, would create an exemption for military ceremonies with approval by the municipality or by the military, law enforcement or fire prevention organization.

“The importance of offering ceremonies and the formal steps is part of history and must be preserved. This legislation will afford all that understand sharing of traditions and honoring those that have served in a formal manner,” Mannion wrote in his legislative justification. “This legislation would ensure that military ceremonies, such as the 21 gun salute during holidays or burials, would be authorized.”

A fellow Democrat, Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon, D-Utica-Rome, has introduced a similar bill to Mannion’s (A.10725) in September.

Commander Mattie McIntyre of the American Legion Post 434 said the American Legion Honor Guard was forced to perform a three-volley salute from across the street from the Chautauqua County courthouse in Mayville at the Crosby Market during the county’s Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks commemoration due to the state’s new gun restrictions.

“The recent laws signed into effect by the New York state governor now prevent any weapons, including ceremonial weapons, to be fired on public property,” McIntyre said. “Not only does this law affect ceremonies such as the 9/11 ceremony, but also will prevent Memorial Day ceremonies, and most importantly, military honors at the graveside of our veterans.”


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