Veterans concerned NY's law could impact funeral salutes

(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

For veterans of the United States armed forces, the 21-gun salute is a fairly popular thing at funerals. It’s seven guns firing blanks into the air three times. You’ve seen it in countless movies, of course, and it’s often the mark of losing a hero.

But it also seems like it may be another of the unexpected casualties of New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s rushed gun control law as well.

Veteran organizations in New York are fearful the state’s new, strict gun laws could lead to the prosecution of members participating in the long tradition of firing a 21-gun salute at a veteran’s funeral.

“They may say we won’t be arrested, but we’re not going to take those chances, especially if it’s a religious cemetery and fire a 21-gun salute we can be arrested for that,” Commander David Riley, of the American Legion Department of New York, told WRGB.

Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul signed new gun policies into law earlier this year that ban people from carrying firearms at most hospitals, restaurants, transit systems, Times Square, parks, schools, theaters and other areas deemed “sensitive locations.” The law would also apply to some cemeteries, WRGB reported.

The American Legion sent letters to all members of New York’s veterans committees asking for clarification of laws, Riley told WRGB. One legislator responded, but he did not disclose more details to the outlet.

“We’re still pursuing it; we’re not going to give up until we find out what’s going on,” Riley said. “We have Veterans Day right around the corner, and it’s going to affect a lot of ceremonies.”

Hochul’s office issued a statement saying that veterans should not be concerned over the law and to proceed with the long-held tradition at military funerals.

Hochul claims that the law allows for funerals and such, but it also appears that isn’t as clear-cut as the governor might like for people to believe, and that’s an issue.

The governor’s statement that something is legal isn’t enough to prevent prosecution. I mean, when he was Vice President, a certain White House resident suggested people shoot through doors with a shotgun. At least some who have done so were prosecuted.

Just because Hochul says it’s cool doesn’t mean it’s really cool.

Yet that’s exactly the kind of thing that can happen when you rush a bill into law without the proper time for debate and discussion. A lot of this could have been clarified in the text long before there was ever a vote. Then, veterans’ funerals and historic reenactments would be looking around trying to decide if they can do their thing without landing in prison.

As it stands, though, any veteran who wants a 21-gun salute at his or her funeral may want to consider being buried in another state.

It’s sad when you realize that New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts all border New York and none of them have embraced this level of stupid but New York has. (Vermont and Pennsylvania also border the state, but their laws are generally far from egregious compared to most in the region.)

Hochul’s assurances mean little. Repealing this insanity would mean so much more.