Gun proposal concerns historical re-enactors

TICONDEROGA Concerns of museum officials and re-enactors have forced a New York City legislator to take a second look at his proposed gun law. Democratic Assemblyman Michael Gianaris of Queens has proposed gun legislation that would require owners of antique guns, black powder weapons and muzzle-loading firearms to go through a background check and purchase a license. The proposal has drawn the ire of historical re-enactors. It is legislation based on fear, said Karl Crannell, who manages re-enactments at Fort Ticonderoga. Laws should not be enacted out of fear. To my knowledge, there has been only one incident involving a trooper being shot with a black powder weapon. Having to go through the gun licensing process, added to the increased costs of gas, unit insurance, etc., will thin reenactor ranks and diminish the ability of New York State historic sites to attract visitors. Presently, antique firearms are exempt from regulation under New York law. Gianaris plan would regulate them just like handguns without exemptions for historic sites, museums, living history events, reenactments, educational programs or interpretative events. Handgun laws in New York can vary from county to county, but generally they require a person to supply detailed personal information, a photograph and fingerprints that are then run through a federal background check. Handgun licenses typically cost $10 or less. It can take up to six months to obtain a handgun license. Noting the opposition of historical re-enactors, Gianaris has promised to take another look at his proposed law. Romes Fort Stanwix Superintendent Debbie Conway said, We are concerned about the implications of this law not only to our re-enactments but to our day-to-day operations. A large part of our interpretive and education program includes black powder demonstrations and firing of the muskets. Typically during the peak season we demonstrate the historic weapons a couple of times per day. It could really impact our programs and the number of volunteers we can get to work at the fort. The firing demonstrations are a big draw for visitors. Requiring re-enactors to obtain gun licenses would have a devastating impact, said Barbara OKeefe, president of The Fort La Presentation Association in Ogdensburg. If this bill were to become law, it would be impossible for us to continue our events, OKeefe said, adding that discontinuation of re-enactments would also jeopardize the associations finances and plans to improve and further develop its historic site. Historians also questioned how much protection the proposed law would really afford the public, noting that black powder and muzzleloading firearms have limited range, limited penetrating capability, are relatively inaccurate and very slow firing. There have been more people killed with baseball bats than with muzzle loaders, agreed Ralph Walker, a legislative specialist with the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association. Are they going to make people go through a background check, register and get licensed to buy a baseball bat?

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