The few gun control advocates who don’t want every combustion-based weapon to be wiped off the face of the earth usually say that muskets are one of the few firearms which should remain legal. After all, they say, muskets were the weapons the founding fathers were referring to when they first drafted the Second Amendment. Besides, a musket can still kill a deer – the only thing, in their opinion, a gun should be used for. The great state of New York, however, tends to disagree. Just recently, several historical war reenactments have been cancelled in Upstate New York due to the state’s confusing gun laws.
According to state legislation, no firearm may be carried in sensitive locations. Sensitive locations are places such as schools, churches, parks or other places where large numbers of people can gather. It just so happens that the overwhelming majority of historical reenactment events are held at public parks. Confusingly, there seems to be a disagreement between the office of the governor and local law enforcement. Sheriff Scott Sherrer of Herkimer County was advised by local attorneys that anyone bringing a firearm, even an unloaded one, into the vicinity of a sensitive location would be in violation of New York’s sweeping new gun control law. This means every man who sets foot in a park with a musket on his shoulder will be guilty of a Class E felony, punishable by up to 1 ⅓ to 4 years in prison. Governor Kathy Hochul, however, said reenactments were in fact, not illegal and emphasized she would work with legislators and law enforcement to “ensure these events can proceed as they have for centuries.”
The governor’s statement, however, was not enough to calm the fears of New York reenactors. Several reenactment communities such as the 19th Angelica Civil War Reenactment, Fort Klock Historic Restoration, and others across New York have decided to stand down due to fears of violating state law. Funnily enough, the first time a group of Americans armed themselves in an illegally assembly against a tyrannical government was at Lexington. The charge against them was high treason, and the penalty was death. Unfortunately, if things in New York continue as they are, the thundering of hooves and the roar of musket fire will never be heard in the state ever again, and the battles of the past will remain in the history books.
Not only has New York dealt a knockout blow to living history education, but in what should be a surprise to no one, they’ve also hampered the local airsoft community. Under new legislation passed in August 2022, the governor has banned the ownership of any “realistic-looking imitation firearms” to protect New York’s children from being accidentally shot by police. Under the new legislation, any imitation firearm must be painted white, bright red, bright orange, bright yellow, bright green, bright blue, bright pink or bright purple or be constructed from translucent material, so as to not be mistaken for a real weapon. It also bans any laser attachments, for some reason. While the law’s logic is clear, dudes in tactical gear blasting each other with bright orange airsoft guns takes all the “sim” out of “milsim,” but more importantly it could provide criminals with a loophole. Thanks to this new imitation weapons law, the only “weapon” a New Yorker can openly carry looks like this:
With a little deviousness and some spray paint, someone with less-than-legal intentions could walk around Times Square with an unsightly rainbow-colored monstrosity of a firearm sticking out of his pocket. To any authorities watching, it would seem legal right until the moment bullets start flying. But of course, these gun laws don’t mean anything anyway since – as it is said time and time again – criminals, by definition, do not follow the law. In fact, a map of gun related deaths in 2022 shows Chicago and New York, areas with notoriously strict gun control laws, as hotspots of gun violence.
Could it be that criminals blatantly disregard the law because they just… don’t care? A man planning a murder knows murder is illegal, so he’s not asking himself whether he’ll commit the crime or not. He’s thinking how he’ll hide the body. In the same way, someone who’d want to commit mass murder would not be deterred by laws alone. Take Payton Gendron, for instance. Before the mass shooting at the Tops supermarket in Buffalo, Gendron had to first purchase his weapons. The mass-murderer-to-be was subjected to multiple background checks, one for every weapon he purchased. He passed all of them, proving the ineffectiveness of background checks against first time killers. He also bought a shotgun in Pennsylvania, proving how easily a state’s strict gun laws can be circumvented by simply buying a weapon elsewhere.
After Gendron was shot by a security guard and survived thanks to his armor, New York responded by passing new laws that banning body armor for everyone. Again, to a determined criminal intent on committing mass murder, this wouldn’t matter. Anyone can simply drive a couple of hours into neighboring states like Pennsylvania or Connecticut, buy body armor there, then drive back into New York to shoot up their target. The only thing New York’s statewide body armor ban has done is ensure no law abiding citizen can keep a vest at home for self-defense. Thankfully, New York’s legislators had enough common sense to exclude security personnel and law enforcement officers from their ban. This still doesn’t excuse the fact New York is punishing millions of innocents for the sins of one psychopath.
In this author’s opinion, the most effective way to deter a mass shooter is with increased security. First, security companies exist. Why don’t cities use them more often? Two well-trained men with body armor and rifles who are familiar with their area of responsibility should be enough to stop a single untrained loon, especially if said loon walks into the parking lot brandishing weapons. Even if security companies aren’t an option, armed and well-trained civilians count as a security measure. If you were a criminal, would you rather attack a school clearly marked with “gun free zone” signs every ten feet or a shooting range where you are guaranteed to be ventilated by everyone in the building? In the same vein of thought, if all teachers were mandated to carry weapons to school, it’s a near guarantee that school shooting statistics would drop if not outright reach zero.
New York’s anti-gun and anti-body armor laws seem to be a form of virtue signaling. New York’s state legislators know full well that their restrictions can be broken, but also know they need to do something in the wake of a highly publicized tragedy like the Buffalo shooting in order to seem like they’re doing something to stem the problem. Unfortunately, the reality is that a violent man with a weapon can only be stopped by people who are willing to do violence to protect others, whether it’s the police or a good guy with a gun, and that is a philosophy that New York refuses to believe in.
How do you feel about New York’s gun laws? Share your thoughts in the comments below.