New York’s Gun Laws Getting In the Way of Historical Reenactments? By: Luke C.


Historical battle reenactments are both very educational and a lot of fun to either participate in or watch. The Battle of Plattsburgh, a historic battle that ended the British invasion of the United States during the war of 1812, is one such battle that is reenacted every year in the state of New York. However, this year’s reenactment has been partially canceled due to the new gun law that was passed and went into effect on September 1st in the state of New York. The new law understandably has several reenactors scared with many canceling their planned appearances at the event.

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New York's Gun Laws Getting In the Way of Historical Reenactments?

Photo: 1814 Commemoration Inc.

New York’s Gun Laws Getting In the Way of Historical Reenactments?

The main trepidation for the would-be attendees of this event revolves mostly around verbiage within the new law that pertains to the carrying of firearms which includes black powder rifles. Due to the way the law is worded, reenactors are worried that if they went through with the event they could get into trouble. Normally these reenactors not only replicate the Battle of Plattsburg but also demonstrate the various firearms and weapons that were used during the event to public audiences. The following quote is from Tom Donahue who is the current President of the 1814 Commemoration Inc organization which puts on reenactments throughout the year.

“The new law the way it’s written reenactors are not allowed to carry a firearm, a musket loading type rifle, black powder rifle, flintlock rifle, whatever because it’s in violation of the new law. The new gun law of New York state has claimed its first casualty: the Battle of Plattsburgh. It’s the first event happening after the new law went into effect on the 1st. There’s nothing in the law that let’s an exemption happen or a waiver happen for an event in a historical significance like we have here in Plattsburgh. We have over 70 reenactors that were coming to this event. Very disappointing.

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All may not be lost, however. Mr. Donahue has reached out to several state representatives to see if something can be done to at the very least, provide an exemption for reenactors. State Senator Dan Stec and representative Elise Stefanik have urged Governor Kathy Hochul to provide an exemption specifically for the Battle of Plattsburgh commemoration as well as urging her and the state Legislature to address the “many flaws” in their gun control law.

New York's Gun Laws Getting In the Way of Historical Re-Enactments?

Photo: 1814 Commemoration Inc.

At the time of writing, the Governor’s office has responded to these requests by stating that a new bill would add language to the new gun laws which would specifically exempt forest preserve land from the current laws which currently prohibit the carrying of firearms within “sensitive areas” like public parks, schools, and other government buildings. It is worth noting that the Adirondacks are classified as a forest preserve and not a public park. Furthermore, the City of Plattsburgh has released an official statement stating that their police department will not arrest or press charges against anyone who is officially part of the commemoration of participating in historical reenactments for educational and demonstrative purposes, even if they are on city property.

New York's New CCW Law Cancels Battle of Plattsburgh Re-Enactment

Photo: Public Domain

While several reenactors have canceled their attendance at the Plattsburgh event, some events including a fireworks show will still be put on, at least at the time of writing. Other historical reenactments in New York are continuing as planned with the Brown’s Raid reenactment set to still take place on September 17th and 18th at Fort Ticonderoga. Hopefully, everything can get sorted out for both parties so that there are no future conflicts.