Cuomo clamp down punishes L.I. gun club

Long Island junior shooting club is latest casualty of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s signature 2013 gun control law that makes ammunition sales subject to federal background checks.

“Purchasing ammunition for the Freeport Junior Club will cost us three times the amount in the retail market,” said Alan Chwick who has been the club’s managing coach for 28 years.  The not for profit organization promotes and teaches firearm safety skills and competitive shooting to participants aged 5 through 21.

Prior to the January enactment of New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, the club was receiving a discount ammunition rate from a federal funding source specifically put aside for use in children’s programs, he said.  “With the new law, all ammo sales, no matter how small or large must undergo a federal background check.”

Although the ammo requirement will not be in effect until Jan. 15, 2014, he has already been denied the discount price for this year’s purchase, he said.

“This last Spring 13 million rounds were set aside for youth programs,” he said.  “Everyone is getting their allocation, except us.”

The holding company that allocates the funding has been advised by their lawyers to refrain from selling to New York State because of the new law, said Chwick who is a contributing writer for Ammoland.com.

“We were hoping to receive 50,000 rounds at the discount rate this year,” he said.  “We now have to scrounge for ammo in the retail market.”

The marksmanship program has just under 90 students enrolled, and are using over 125,000 rounds of .22 caliber ammo per year, he said.  “The federal program offers 100,000 rounds at the cost of $5,000 whereas in the retail market the cost of 100,000 rounds is $15,000.”

The funding is allocated to a variety of different youth groups, such as; Jr. R.O.T.C., Boy Scouts, Future Farmers of America and others, he said.  “All of these groups in New York State are at risk.”

“Our operating budget up until this year was between $7,500 and $8,000 per year,” said Chwick.  “We are bringing in about $7,000 with fundraising; we were doing pretty well until now.”

An increase of cost for ammunition by three times will be expensive, said the editor at Nassau County News Flash.  “There is no way in God’s creation we can fundraise that much money.”

The Freeport youth program charges $75 per student which is roughly $3 a session and a minimal fee compared to the operating costs, he said.  “We are all volunteers; we cover the cost of everything:  rifles, ammo, targets and repair.”

When Chwick contacted his local elected officials, the same Republican politicians who voted for the S.A.F.E. Act, to notify them of this issue and other problems with the law, they would eventually stop returning his calls, said the NRA certified pistol instructor.  “If downstate Republicans voted with upstate Republicans the bill would not have passed.”

“When I contacted the governor’s office earlier this year, they put me in touch with the state police,” said Chwick.

The state police who are in charge of enforcing and interpreting the S.A.F.E. Act advised that as long as the ammunition is a donation, a federal background check is not required, however that does not preclude the holding company from halting funding to New York State youth programs, he said.

Freeport Youth Club serves a tremendous mix of self-motivated students, he said.  “The program is geared that we can follow their progress, and if they leave and come back they can pick up where they left off.”

The civilian-side of the range has been around since 1933 and the junior division was opened in the late 1950s, he said.  “We will hopefully find a way to keep it open.”

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