This past week, new gun laws came into effect here in New York. Background checks on ammunition sales, special permits to take ownership of semiautomatic rifles for people over 21, and added requirements for those seeking concealed carry handgun permits are just a few of them.
Additional requirements were put onto firearms dealers. There is a lengthy description of sensitive locations where firearms cannot be possessed (including concealed carry). Within this section is where not-for-profit organizations (like NWTF, Ducks Unlimited, etc.) are finding problems for their fundraisers.
Many of these organizations hold events where people attend and buy raffle tickets to try to win a firearm that is displayed (with a trigger lock or other safety measure) and under the supervision of a firearms dealer. Under the new law, banquet halls are sensitive locations so the firearms cannot be there. Many people like to see what they are buying chances to win before deciding to buy them, they can no longer do this. Additionally, any venue that has a license for people to consume alcohol on the premises is also a sensitive location. It does not matter if no alcohol is served or consumed during the event, just the fact that they have a consumption license bars firearms from being brought to the venue. This effectively bans firearms from being at any fundraising events that I can think of that I have attended or been a part of.
So, what is there to do? There is no doubt that portions of the law, or the entire thing, will be taken to court. This takes time (and money). California implemented a law where it is illegal to portray a youth handling firearms and logoed apparel cannot be marketed for youth if the company has pro-firearms images anywhere. So, posting a picture online of successful youth hunters holding their firearms is illegal there! They estimate it will take $8.5 million to make it through multiple levels of appeals courts.
In New York, there are some county sheriffs and district attorneys that have said they will not charge people for breaking the new laws. However, there are other police forces out there that can enforce these laws. As the state chapter president of NWTF, I have had conversations with the national board president and national level employees. We have been advised by the legal team at NWTF not to have firearms at fundraising events until something changes from either an injunction or overturning of the law.
On August 27, I volunteered at a NWTF event where none of the firearms were at the event. Instead, posters were made with a picture of each firearm and the details (make, model, caliber/gauge). In addition, a slide show was put together of the firearms so people could see them on a TV.
They gave away 46 firearms at the event. Each winner was able to pick the dealer they wanted their firearm shipped to, since some of them had traveled to attend the event. When the event was over, they raffled off the TV they used to display the slide show so there was an extra winner. It was the earliest finish time for that event since they were not waiting on a gun dealer to do 46 background checks on the spot. While everyone would probably want to take their firearm home that day, there were no complaints made about having to wait for their prizes to be shipped to them.
In addition to fundraising, outreach events are impacted by the new laws. They did write in an exception for “persons lawfully engaged in hunting activity, including hunter education training” when it comes to some of the sensitive locations. However, this leaves it open to interpretation as to what falls under hunting activity. Does this include target shooting or sighting in hunting firearms?
Some chapters hold field days where anyone can attend, and they would allow youth to handle and shoot .22 rifles under supervision and instruction of a range officer. This often is the spark to get them to be interested in hunting and taking hunter education.
So not only did the gun laws that were passed impact gun owners, but they directly are also negatively impacting the ability of organizations to fundraise and recruit new hunters. New hunters that purchase equipment that generates Pittman-Robertson Tax moneys that fund game management on top of hunting licenses that determine how much P-R Tax money the state gets.