Proposed Ban On Open Carry Of Long Guns Makes Little Sense

We’ve disagreed with the way New York state handled changes to conceal carry permits for pistols.

But one thing that we can’t disagree with is the logic behind wanting to know who is concealed carrying a handgun. After all, the point of pistol permits is to have some record of those who can legally carry a concealed weapon.

We’re not sure the logic extends to a proposed ban on the open carry of long guns.

State Sen. Michael Gianaris, D-Astoria rote in his legislative justification that restrictions on the open carry of long guns will help decrease violent crime. It’s hard to judge whether or not that’s true because the state’s own gun-related violence statistics don’t delineate if a crime was committed with a handgun or a long gun. Gianaris further says that the lack of licensing and restrictions on the open carry of long guns has allowed bad actors to display long guns while engaging in various forms of intimidation including protests, counter-protests, intimidation in front of places of worship and places of reproductive health.Of course, it’s hard to know how big a problem such behavior actually is if people aren’t being charged with crimes for such behavior – which leads to governing by anecdote.

At the same time we can’t disprove what Gianaris is saying about the use of long guns to intimidate. But wouldn’t an easier change in state law be to include those who threaten another person with a long gun a part of existing menacing or criminal mischief statutes?

Gianaris’ bill shouldn’t affect hunters and sport shooters, which is honestly a major concession. In fact, the Astoria Democrat’s bill has a laundry list of exemptions that should put rural New Yorkers’ minds at ease if they’re concerned about changes to hunting, military ceremonies or the use of rifles on private property.

But we still don’t know how necessary this proposed change to state law actually is. It would be easier to support a piece of legislation like this one S.9137 if there were statistics showing a pervasive problem. In the absence of those numbers, we’d prefer a bill that is more narrowly tailored to the problems Gianaris cites with intimidation by those carrying long guns in public by punishing the actor, not banning the instrument.


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