For people, particularly in rural parts of the nation, hunting is a way of life. I miss having ready access to hunting land. There’s something special about eating a meal where your own efforts put the protein on the table.
I still remember my first deer like it was yesterday.
I was still a teenager when I got that deer. In New York state, among the other bizarre laws, the minimum wage for hunting is 14. That’s higher than most states. Recently, in a pique of sanity, the state legislature adopted a measure that allows counties to lower the minimum age to reflect other states’ minimums.
Almost every county that could adopt the measure, did. One didn’t, though, and the reason it didn’t is kind of insane.
New York’s 2021 budget allowed counties to lower the youth hunting minimum age and fall more in line with the rest of the country. All but one county adopted the lowered age.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz overruled his county legislature and vetoed the proposal. Poloncarz’s reasoning behind this move has New York hunters and supporters of the proposal scratching their heads.
Erie County’s legislature even passed the opt-in by a 6-5 vote. Poloncarz had other ideas based on false data and gun control talking points. He vetoed.
“There have been many unfortunate firearm accidents across the state and country, especially those involving youth hunters,” he wrote. He added there’s an “inherent danger” in allowing children 12 and 13 years old to shoot deer with a firearm while accompanied and supervised by an experienced adult hunter.
Hunting Data Says What?
Poloncarz is ignoring his state’s data. New York’s DEC report on 2020 Hunting Safety Statistics shines a bright light on just how safe and responsible hunters have been in the Empire State, including youth hunters.
Since 1960, the average number of hunting-related shooting incidents (HRSI) involving firearms in New York for all ages has dropped each decade. In the 1960s, an average of approximately 140 HRSIs occurred each year; dropping to 100 during the 1970s; nearly 45 throughout the 2000s; and now down to less than 25 each year on average in the 2020s. In 2020 specifically, there were 22 HRSIs.
Further, the average age of those involved in those 22 accidents? They were 41-years-old and had more than 20 years of hunting experience.
In other words, it ain’t the kids that are the problem.
So either Poloncarz was completely oblivious to the reality when he vetoed the measure or he knew exactly what he was doing. Frankly, I don’t feel particularly charitable.
Had Poloncarz simply said he was uncomfortable with younger kids hunting or something similar, that would have been one thing. It still would have been stupid, but it might have been understandable.
Instead, he used absolute fabrications to justify his veto. It sounds to me like he simply is uncomfortable with young people learning anything that involves a firearm. I mean, it’s not difficult to imagine an anti-gun lawmaker in New York state by any stretch of the imagination. While Erie County isn’t exactly Manhattan, it’s not a stretch to picture Poloncarz being anti-Second Amendment as a whole.
But in a county where people do much hunting, that’s probably not a winning position to take, so instead, he makes claims that run completely and totally counter to the facts.
The big unanswered question is whether he made them up or someone else fabricated them and fed them to him. Either way, making claims that run counter to reality is on him. Even if the claims didn’t originate with him, he didn’t bother to check them, so again, it’s on him.
Of course, the voters of Erie County can rectify this during his reelection. No one needs such a blatant and, frankly, bad liar in a position of power.