February 12, 2009
Dave Henderson: Two bills sure to anger some sportsmen
There are any number of bills wandering about the Democratic-controlled legislature these days that concern, if not frighten sportsmen, but two recent ones have provoked immediate controversy.
One, Assembly Bill A00924, would amend Environmental Conservation law to authorize the use of crossbows as legal hunting implements for able-bodied hunters. Crossbows are currently allowed for severely handicapped hunters, but the Assembly bill (which has no Senate counterpart yet) would allow for a special crossbow season.
It would also allow the use of a crossbow on private property in any deer season — a stipulation that will render those vehement anti-crossbow members of the bowhunting community apoplectic.
The bill calls for a minimum 14-inch bolt (arrow), a safety, a minimum limb width of 17 inches, a minimum draw weight of 100 pounds and maximum weight of 200 pounds.
The bill's justification states that "in states that allow crossbow hunting, including Georgia, Michigan, and Ohio (and now Pennsylvania) crossbows appear to be an important recruitment and retention tool for hunters.
"Further, these states found that crossbow use has not resulted in a decrease in bag limits, nor has poaching increased. As expected, where crossbow hunting is permitted, it has been documented as a safe, responsible and popular means of hunting, and it has had no ill effect on wildlife resources or on any other group of sportsmen."
Virtually identical bills died in the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee in 2005-06 and 2007-08, but Commissioner Grannis, whose party is now in the majority in both houses, has now indicated an interest in seeing it passed.
The second controversial bill is Senate Bill S1598, which would require all pistol permits (outside of New York City) to be renewed every five years, for a fee, and for all first-time permit applicants to take a safety course.
The renewal is currently required in New York City, Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester and pre-application training in other counties.
The bill's "Justification" notes that "Firearms are clearly a lethal product and the owner of a firearm must know how to operate it and store it properly to prevent needless death and injury. The state requires a person who is going to operate a car to prove that he or she knows how and issues a license. Similarly, the state needs some assurance that an individual knows how to safely use his or her firearm."
License renewal would help account for all licensed firearms in the event of theft, death or other change in permit holder's condition.
This bill will definitely have life, since the sponsor is Senator Eric T. Schneiderman, chairman of the Codes Committee. There is a companion bill, A801, in the Senate.