Schenectady, N.Y. — New York’s gun dealers say the state’s new gun and ammunition sales restrictions that took effect in December are having a big impact on business, hurting sales, creating new layers of paperwork and requirements and costing at least one shop a valued employee.
Craig Serafini, owner of Upstate Guns and Ammo in Schenectady, said the laws that took effect last fall cost him one of his best workers – his 20-year-old son, who could no longer work at his store because of a state regulation that doesn’t allow those under 21 to work in a gun shop. It was very traumatic to have to fire a young man who had worked in the family business for years, Serafini said.
But that personnel decision has come on top of financial ramifications that have been having a significant impact on the bottom line at Upstate Guns and other firearms business around New York, where one shop owner estimated his business was down about 30% since last summer.
When signing the legislation into law last July, Gov. Kathy Hochul said the new rules, dubbed the Concealed Carry Improvement Act, and legislation passed earlier affecting semiautomatic firearms, would “strengthen our gun laws and bolster restrictions on concealed carry weapons.”
Among the major changes were requirements for a firearms license to purchase a semiautomatic firearm, those under 21 can no longer purchase semiautomatic long guns, those purchasing ammunition must undergo a background check and restrictions were imposed on where concealed handguns can be carried.
So far, gun dealers have found that the ramifications have been broad, placing roadblocks to law-abiding citizens while seemingly not addressing issues that lead to crime stemming from illegal guns.
“There are a lot of facets of this law that have greatly affected our business,” Serafini said. “We’re experiencing dramatic economic impacts across the board.”
Long gun sales in particular have suffered because of the new permit requirement for semiautomatic firearms, Serafini and other dealers said.
At Losie’s Gun Shop in Oneonta, owner Jim Losie also said sales have dropped sharply, and he has found that the state implemented new laws without having fully established procedures for dealers to use as required. It has been a particular problem for the requirement that background checks be performed on those purchasing ammunition, Losie explained.
“There is no system,” he said.
Jane Havens, owner of Calamity Jane’s Firearms and Fine Shoes in Hudson Falls, similarly lamented the impacts at her store.
“We are losing an immense amount of sales from law-abiding customers,” Havens said. “Their (downstate state legislators’) goal was to jam up the industry, and it is working.”
Expanded requirements for firearms training to get a firearms permit have hurt those who can’t afford to pay the $300 to $600 fees that are being charged on those who can find a rare open spot in a training course, Havens added. That will hurt those who need to hunt to put food on the table, she noted.
“Nobody knows what to do about the training aspect of this,” Havens said.
Havens said she has had conversations with a local Democratic state assembly member to request that she convince her colleagues to revisit the latest package of restrictions.
Tom King, executive director of New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, said the new laws will be challenged in court, and there has been “little to no enforcement” of them so far because law enforcement has found that laws are either unenforceable or don’t have enforcement mechanisms in place.
King said the portion of the law that restrict those under the age of 21 from visiting the gun sections of stores is “probably the most ludicrous of all” of the new laws, since it seems impossible to enforce in big box stores.
“They are all atrocious laws passed without any forethought,” King said.