Summer Camp Shooting Programs Come Under Fire

A gun control bill passed by the New York State Legislature last month could have unfortunate consequences for Christian summer camps.

Passed by both houses of the Legislature on March 4, 2019, Bill S.2450-A-Krueger/A.2686-A-Paulin awaits action by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The bill relates to firearm storage. Under this bill, a person who lives with a child under 16 years of age or with a person who is barred from  possessing a rifle, shotgun or firearm would be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor for failing to secure such a weapon when it is outside his or her immediate control. The bill would also make it a violation punishable by a fine of $250 for a person who owns a rifle, shotgun or firearm to fail to secure such a weapon when it is outside his or her immediate control and when it is likely that a child under the age of 16 will gain access to the weapon. The bill contains an exception for situations when a youth under the age of 16 has a hunting license or permit.

A recent commentary by Bob Confer in the Lockport Journal lays out the problem with this bill as it relates to summer camps. The problem is this: Some summer camps provide well-supervised shooting sports programs—including training activities—to youths under 16 years of age who may not have hunting licenses or permits, and this bill would make those programs unlawful. Why? The bill would require instructors at such programs to keep every firearm within arm’s reach, which would make group training impossible. Confer asserts that “the shooting sports program is one of the most popular — and most important — aspects of summer camp.” He adds that shooting sports programs have led youths to pursue “involvement in: shooting sports clubs, giving them a competitive outlet at their schools or conservation clubs; hunting, which has helped them put food on the table for their families; and public service, which has seen them protect our citizens through law enforcement or the military.”

Well-supervised shooting sports programs at Christian and other summer camps provide youths with the opportunity to learn an important life skill. Sadly, Gov. Andrew Cuomo—an ardent gun control advocate—is quite likely to sign this legislation, thus taking that opportunity away from them.