By Don Lehman Contributing Writer
Albany – Teens as young as 14 can legally shoot pistols in a
controlled setting under a law enacted in New York earlier this
The new statute was hailed as the first new pro-gun law in New
York in a decade.
Signed by Gov. George Pataki, it will allow New York youth to
learn to use handguns under legal adult supervision at shooting
The law previously had allowed only those 18 and older to use
handguns, and critics argued it hampered children in New York who
wanted to take part in Olympic shooting sports.
“This is a law we’ve been trying to get passed for as long as I
can remember,” said Tom King, president of the New York State Rifle
and Pistol Association, which had pushed heavily for the law
The National Rifle Association and National Shooting Sports
Foundation had also supported the change.
The law allows teens to learn to use handguns at a range or
place of business established for “conservation purposes or to
foster proficiency in small arms or at a target pistol shooting
competition.” That’s legal jargon for fish and game clubs and other
sportsmen’s organizations that operate shooting ranges.
In addition to allowing teens to use handguns at an earlier age
to train for shooting sports, it will also expose more youths to
sporting activities like hunting, King said.
“Its benefits are twofold,” he said.
King said bills that would have changed the age to shoot a
pistol or revolver had failed in the Legislature several times in
recent years, always failing to get through the Democrat-controlled
This time around, its wording was changed so that it exempted
the teens from the Penal Law instead of changing the law
King said he did not know why the bill got through the Assembly
this year. In fact, a year after it had been shot down in the
Assembly, only 12 Assembly members voted against it.
“It’s just speculation on my part, but I think that it’s partly
because it’s an election year and I think the Assembly sees we (the
NYSRPA) have become much more organized,” he said.
It was sponsored in the Assembly by western New York Democrat
Francine DelMonte and in the Senate by western New York Republican
King said Assemblyman James Tedisco, R-Schenectady, the
Assembly’s minority leader, was instrumental in getting the bill
passed. Tedisco has received the NYSRPA’s Legislator of the Year
award for 2006.
The law took effect immediately upon Pataki’s signing it on July