A column by BOB LONSBERRY
(Editor’s note: Officials from the event confirm this column is accurate and the event has been canceled “for this year at least”)
The 136th New York Volunteer Infantry is remembered with a monument in Gettysburg and with a reenactment in Angelica, which some of its original soldiers called home.
A small village in Allegany County, where the hills are steep, the woods are thick and the people are strong, where they remember and celebrate who they are and who their ancestors were.
And where 20 years ago a couple of Boy Scout troops came together to learn and teach about the Civil War and the men and women who fought and sacrificed for it. Their small gathering has turned into one of the nation’s most successful Civil War commemorations, with some 300 reenactors and probably a thousand spectators and a proud place on the region’s tourism calendar.
The encampment sets up Friday morning, in time for field trips from the school, there are two battles on Saturday, a dance and a ladies’ tea, and a final battle on Sunday. They camp in people’s yards – with the canvas shelters and iron pots of 150 years ago – sutlers set up in the big circular park in the center of town, and the smoky, booming battles of Blue and Gray move through streets and fields.
It is educational, it is inspiring, it is thrilling.
And now, thanks to Gov. Kathy Hochul and her Democrat allies in the state legislature, it is also illegal.
After 18 iterations – with a couple of years off for covid – the Angelica Civil War Reenactment is done. New York’s new gun laws have made it illegal.
That was the realization over the last week as the New York State Police detailed the particulars of a state crackdown on guns hurriedly passed by the ruling Democrats in late June. The legislation was a retaliation against rural New York gun owners who had successfully sued the state in the United States Supreme Court. That ruling declared that Americans have a right to carry handguns outside their homes. The angry governor and her party struck back by rejecting the Supreme Court’s decision and essentially outlawing almost all firearms possession outside the home.
As the law is written, firearms may be possessed – usually with a license – in one’s home, in one’s car, in the woods while hunting, and on private property – homes and stores, for example – if there are signs clearly saying that firearms are allowed. Guns are outlawed everywhere else.
Not even for guns from the 1860s.
The firearms used by Civil War reenactors – originals or replicas – are firearms. They are not loaded with bullets, obviously, but they are loaded with black powder, and they do make a lot of noise and a lot of smoke. And Kathy Hochul and her party made them illegal.
They can’t be in the village park, they can’t be carried across private property, they can’t be at public gatherings, they can’t be outside the town hall, the church or the courthouse. In short, they can’t be in Angelica.
This is what happens when you govern at the intersection of oppression and incompetence. When you legislate as an act of punishment. When you write laws in a bubble of woke autocracy. When you don’t think things through before you pass legislation. This is the style of the Cuomo-Hochul Dynasty.
When Democrats are in charge, stupid things happen. And innocent people suffer.
Like the people and businesses of Angelica, and the hundreds and hundreds of people who otherwise would have spent a happy September weekend learning and celebrating American history.
But this is just the beginning.
In addition to the obvious disarming of law-abiding New Yorkers, the consequences of this rash and unconstitutional dictate have the potential to be widespread and to impact seemingly unrelated events and ceremonies.
Like Memorial Day commemorations. The one in my town is held in a village park, and includes a rifle salute. Yes, they fire blanks, but, yes, they are rifles and they are banned in parks of any sort. Just like they are banned at the town hall where I have repeatedly attended 9-11 ceremonies with rifle salutes.
Possession of those ceremonial guns in those locations is a Kathy Hochul felony.
Just as carrying some ceremonial rifles in hometown parades is.
Or firing a gun salute at a veteran’s grave in a religious or municipal cemetery.
They suppressed our constitutional rights. We took them to court. The court sided with us. And now we have to suffer.
That’s how it is in New York.
We are not citizens, we are subjects.
And she is a tyrant.
(Bob Lonsberry, a Canisteo native, writes a column for his site and the Wellsville and Hornell Sun. He is the father of nine children, a veteran of the United States Army, and a newsman for nearly three decades. Bob is a former newspaper columnist and remains a reporter, author and marathon runner. You can hear Bob mornings on NewsRadio WHAM 1180 in Rochester and NewsRadio 570 WSYR and 106.9 FM in Syracuse. You can reach him at [email protected])