Crossbows a N.Y. longshot

Albany — Senate approval of legislation that would place the decision on crossbow use in the hands of the DEC sparked a last-minute push by supporters to have the bill clear its biggest hurdle – the state Assembly.

At presstime, the bill – S1699B/A283B – remained stalled in the Assembly’s environmental conservation committee.

There was no indication committee chair Assemblyman Robert Sweeney, a Long Island Democrat, would release it to a floor vote.

Sweeney has long been seen as the major roadblock in advancing crossbow legislation to the Assembly for a vote. While many sportsmen see passage of the bill as a longshot in the Assembly, others are hopeful Gov. Andrew Cuomo, vilified by the sporting community on the heels of the passage of the SAFE Act gun legislation, may nudge Sweeney to move the bill to the floor in an effort to win back some support among the hunting fraternity.

“It’s foolish to deny New York’s hunters, and those who wish to visit, the opportunity to hunt with a crossbow, many of whom are simply incapable of using a traditional or compound bow due to age or injury,” said state Sen. Patrick Gallivan (R-C-I, Elma), who sponsored the Senate version of the bill that passed by a vote of 52-10 earlier this month.

“This legislation will expand the sportsman community in New York and draw additional revenue into our economy.”

Gallivan has sponsored several legislative forums on the crossbow issue, most recently on May 22 when representatives of several sportsmen’s groups weighed in with their support.

The legislation has received formal support from The New York State Conservation Council, the New York State Farm Bureau, the New York Sportsmen’s Advisory Council, the Conservation Alliance of New York, New York Shooting Sports program, the New York State Deer and Elk Farmers Association, the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, the Shooters Committee On Political Education (SCOPE), and many others.

The Assembly version of the bill has received “same as” status, a necessary step in the legislative process.

“We still must convince Assemblyman Sweeney to allow this bill to come to the floor for a vote,” Rick McDermott, president of the New York State Crossbow Coalition, said in an email to sportsmen across the state as the clock ticked on the end of the legislative session last week. “I know everyone has been making the phone calls, but we must continue to call Assemblyman Sweeney, Speaker Silver and the governor, asking that A283B be reported out of the

Assembly Environmental Committee and allow it to be voted on the floor.”

McDermott, in that email, called the push “a longshot. There are many people in the background talking about this, but they need to continue to hear from as many supporters as we can get to call.”

With several neighboring states – notably deer hunting hot spots Ohio and Pennsylvania – offering crossbow hunting, Gallivan said it’s time for the issue to be resolved and put into the hands of DEC wildlife officials. Department staff have previously indicated support for liberalized crossbow use during the regular archery season.

“No issue looms larger for the sporting community than crossbow,” be said. “For years crossbow enthusiasts have been forced to travel, spend their time and spend their money in any one of New York’s neighboring states that already allow crossbow hunting. I have solicited the opinions and the input from dozens of hunting organizations and the overwhelming majority have indicated their desire to see crossbow hunting allowed in New York. It’s time to deliver.”

Crossbows were allowed for two hunting seasons, but only during the regular firearms and late archery seasons. That provision of the law expired last year, and currently crossbow use is prohibited in the state.

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