Editor’s note: This commentary is in the Nov/Dec 2022 issue of Adirondack Explorer magazine, as part of our “It’s Debatable” feature. In this regular column, we invite organizations and/or individuals to address a particular issue. For more on this issue, read this story by Gwendolyn Craig. Click here to subscribe to the magazine, available in both print and digital formats: www.adirondackexplorer.org/subscribe.
The question: Does the Concealed Carry Act fit the park?
Let us walk in the woods with our handguns*
I’ve been hunting, fishing, hiking, canoeing, camping and shooting in the Adirondacks most of my adult life. I’ve watched the mountains morph from a wild area with few trails, into a forever wild area with limited access to large tracts of land with fringe areas developed for trails and opportunities for outdoor enjoyment.
Over the passage of many years the mountains have become a playground for the people of New York state. On any given weekend you may run into people enjoying the mountains from all areas of the state including New York City. The magnificent Adirondacks have evolved into the Adirondack Park, run by an agency of the same name and controlled by outsiders who govern the mountains as New York City governs Central Park. They’ve established regulations that suppress any type of growth or activities that do not meet with their approval including limiting the number of people who can use certain areas.
The most egregious calamity to befall the Park occurred on July 6, 2022, when Gov. Hochul, in an attempt to circumvent the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, signed a law that declared parks are sensitive areas and where it is illegal to carry a concealed handgun. With the stroke of a pen hundreds of years of Adirondack tradition were flushed down the drain with no thought and no consideration to the traditions or mores of current day Adirondackers.
No longer is a walk in the woods with a handgun legal. In fact if you are caught with a handgun in the vast Adirondacks, you will be charged with a felony. A felony for carrying your legally owned and registered firearm anywhere within the Adirondack Park while violent felons are let go with a slap on the wrist in Central Park. While hunting may be allowed the law makes no provision for hikers, canoeing or fishing, severely limiting the means of self defense while in the Adirondack Park.
Hochul’s Concealed Carry Improvement Act is worse than a slap in the face to all the concealed carry permit holders who live within the boundaries of the Adirondack Park. It is a travesty: criminals are treated with more respect and consideration than are the legal and lawful gun owners who live within the park. It is time for politicians to understand that the hunting, shooting and firearm traditions have been bred into the DNA of Adirondack natives and politicians should remember that we believe that firearms have two enemies, politicians and rust.
*In October, a federal judge temporarily halted parts of the law, including the park restriction, and the New York attorney general intended to appeal.
— Tom King, president of New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, is from from Rensselaer County
Handguns should stay outside parks
Public parks are a place of serenity for most people. Spending time in nature offers a sense of calm outside of a world filled with chaos. But would we have the same sense of calm if handguns were permitted in these spaces?
With mass shootings and gun deaths rising exponentially, the New York Legislature passed a law that prohibits firearms in sensitive places, including public parks — with exceptions for hunting. While some are expressing their dissatisfaction with this new law, I’m applauding it. As a gun owner, I believe in the Second Amendment. I also believe we can adhere to common sense regulations to keep people safe, such as Assembly Bill A41001 which restricts concealed handgun carrying.
The Adirondack Park is 6 million acres of public land for families to use, people to hike and nature to be preserved. It’s critical that everyday New Yorkers feel safe to enjoy this public park. Prior to this law being passed, some New York parks had events canceled due to fears of firearms being permitted in public parks. The new law will address those fears, without having any impact on lawful hunting.
Most gun owners agree that common sense protections are needed. In 2020, more than 1,000 New Yorkers died from gun violence. Guns have now become the leading cause of death among children in our country. Every year, over 8,000 children are killed or seriously injured by firearms nationwide. In May of this year, 10 innocent people were murdered at a supermarket in Buffalo.
The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was my wake-up call, spurring me to post a video destroying my AR-15, asking: “So when do we change?”
The answer is now. New York has some of the strongest gun laws in the country, and Congress has finally acted and passed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the first gun safety legislation enacted in nearly 30 years.
However, it’s not enough, especially given that just this summer the Supreme Court ruling overturned a 100-year-old gun safety law in our state. I’m glad our lawmakers here acted swiftly in response and passed this new legislation. New Yorkers and all Americans deserve to live without fear of violence.
— Scott Pappalardo, from Orange County, is a member of Gun Owners For Safety
Photo at top: Hunters like Tiffany Bezio of Whitehall are able to carry concealed guns in the Adirondacks while hunting. Photo by Cindy Schultz