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The governor’s mixed message to sportsmen

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EDITOR’S NOTE:The following opinion piece was submitted by Assemblyman Kenneth Blankenbush, R-Black River, on the heels of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s proposal to reduce the cost of hunting and fishing licenses and in some cases extend the time for which they are valid.

It has been an interesting year for our sportsmen. Earlier this year, the governor forced through a poorly written and ill-conceived gun control law that arbitrarily bans modern rifles, limits law enforcement’s ability to protect us and will significantly alter your privacy and ability to freely exercise your Second Amendment rights, all at the cost of $36 million. The governor’s gun control law disrespects every law-abiding gun owner and taxpayer, and people are rightly outraged about it.

A backlash has been brewing since that vote; rallies have taken place at the Capitol and throughout the state. The governor is taking quite a hit in his approval rating due to his gun control law, but he had a plan to make it all better – “I’ll cut hunting and fishing license fees by 25 percent.” Okay, I am being a bit facetious, but does he really think that the one to 10 bucks saved will quell the anger of sportsmen in our state?

Don’t get me wrong; I am all for price reductions on hunting and fishing license fees, but this recent contradiction shows how out of touch New York really is with our sportsmen and Second Amendment enthusiasts. For years, sportsmen have been ignored by downstate politicians and this band aid won’t placate the folks who feel wronged.

The governor said that outdoor sports generate $8.1 million in economic activity nationwide, and that’s great. More significant to me is the $1 million it generates in our state alone, and even more importantly is how he and others in the past have done little to support and continue to foster this economic boon to our state.

For years, sportsmen’s licensing fees have been swept into the general fund rather than being used for restocking and ensuring the health of hunting grounds and fishing areas. Time and time again, downstate politicians have tried to pass micro-stamping, and now there is an even more ridiculous bill that would require all gun owners to carry an insurance policy to ‘protect’ others from willful use of guns to harm someone else. Really? I’m an insurance guy; no insurance company would carry a policy like that.

I’d like our governor and other downstate politicians to start to understand how the shortsightedness of their thinking impacts the way of life for upstate New Yorkers as well as our economic livelihood. It’s time for folks who don’t understand outdoor sports to stop trying to legislate our way of life. And for goodness sake, don’t send us silly mixed messages like this. Either you value our concerns or you don’t.

I’d like to hear your ideas. Share them with me by calling my office at 493-3909 or by e-mailing me at blankenbushk@assembly.state.ny.us.

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