Stec criticizes gun law after cancellation of reenactment
FORT EDWARD — Sen. Dan Stec, R-Queensbury, spoke alongside battle reenactors at the Rogers Island Visitors Center in Fort Edward on Wednesday, after this weekend’s reenactment was canceled in reaction to a new gun control law in the state.
Stec said the process is an example of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s “shoddy, sloppy work.”
“You cannot amend the law via press release,” Stec repeated to news cameras on Wednesday.
“Yes, this time the governor’s interpretation of the law would work in our favor, but next time it may not. We cannot set this precedent,” he added.
Stec held a press conference alongside Ed Carpenter, Rogers Island Visitors Center board president and Fort Edward Village Board member, and three historical reenactors at the center to explain the cancellation of the site’s biggest event.
Stec explained the state’s new conceal and carry laws explicitly prohibit possession of a rifle or shotgun in “sensitive areas,” which include parks. When asked, he said the governor stated the law did not apply to the Adirondack Park or Catskill Park in a news release. However, Stec said the legislators in support of the bill stated that the above parks were not exempt from the law.
A spokesperson for Hochul on Wednesday said the laws do not prevent historical reenactments.
“Gov. Hochul passed new public safety laws to protect New Yorkers and keep them safe from gun violence. These laws allow historical reenactments to occur and there should be no concern otherwise. We will work with legislators and local law enforcement to ensure these events can proceed as they have for centuries. In the meantime, individuals who have lawfully participated in reenactments should continue to do so,” the governor’s spokesperson said.
Jean Lapper, the Democrat running for state Senate against Stec in November, argued that the concern for penalization was negated by information provided by the Warren County sheriff.
“It is sad to see our current senator looking for problems when there are so many real problems to be addressed. Last week, it was reported Warren County Sheriff Jim LaFarr said reenactors and Adirondack Park residents will not be considered felons. It would be shameful to see the Washington County sheriff arrest law-abiding citizens as a political stunt,” Lapper told The Post-Star on Wednesday.
Stec agreed that realistically “no one would arrest a historical reenactor,” however, his problem still lies in the wording of the bill and the manner in which it was considered and passed.
In July, Stec publicly said the bill needed an amendment because the way it was written, “law-abiding Adirondackers (would) be made into felons.”
He cited the recently passed bill that bans smoking in state parks.
“That bill explicitly states the Adirondack and Catskill parks are excluded, so I’m not being nit-picky, it has been done before. The difference is the smoking ban doesn’t result in a felony charged if violated,” Stec said.
The Rogers Island event was canceled by the center and reenactors not because they were required to, but due to fear of violating the new law.
The president of the visitors center’s board said the cancellation negatively impacts the economy of the village and town.
“This cancellation has been an obvious setback for the village and town of Fort Edward as far as historic tourism. We were expecting over 1,000 people this year and this was going to be the largest event we’ve ever had, so we were excited about it,” Carpenter said.
Dan Gates, a reenactor of 30 years, said he got involved due to his love of history and the area.
He said this event consisted of a year of planning and the group was “just really disappointed.”
“It’s really a great way to spend the weekend with family and we get to teach people about the history we love so much and it’s just a great way to stay in touch. It’s just a lot of fun,” Gates said.
He said the men try and keep things as accurate and close to history as possible, using real weapons.
“We try to show people what it really might have been like in the 1700s. It’s not like one of the recent wars, you can just watch on TV,” Gates added.
He said though this event, and others like a Sept. 11th memorial ceremony in Plattsburgh, were canceled, the group is hopeful they will be able to return next year.