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New concealed carry laws impact local club

Tonawandas Sportsmen's Club says it's losing business as a result of new laws.

TONAWANDA, N.Y. — Gov. Kathy Hochul’s new gun safety legislation went into effect last week and brought some major changes around the state for where residents can and cannot take their firearms. 

That’s because of a new list of sensitive locations stops concealed carry at a number of businesses and organizations around the state.

“It's just inconvenient,” said Jim Trottman, who has been the president of the Tonawandas Sportsmen's Club for the last four and half years. 

“You're traveling back, somebody might come in and shoot their rounds, and as they take their gun back to their car, they might just get in their car and go home.”

He says what’s happening in the past week is unlike anything he has seen before.

“We had to shut down for the weekend just to be compliant, to ensure we could get word out as we're open to the public,” Trottman said. “So we shut down the bar in order to not create our members becoming criminals.”

That’s a new concern for Trottman and the club’s members as Governor Kathy Hochul’s new gun legislation doesn’t allow for concealed carry at sensitive locations like businesses that serve alcohol, such as the sportsman club’s bar.

“We don't need people carrying guns in our places of worship,” Hochul said. “We don't need them carrying them in to guns into bars or restaurants. Because that only makes people less safe.” 

That was seen in a 2013 study that found on average nearly half of all homicide offenders were under the influence of alcohol when committing the crime.   

This is a problem the club’s president says they used to be able to control by allowing members to keep their firearms inside.

“We can see that it's empty,” Trottman said. “They put it in the rack, and there's a lot of self-policing here. We're all members. We're a big family.”

But being able to maintain that sense of family is what the club fears may no longer be possible because of these new laws 

“The bar is here for the social aspect,” Trottman said. “You can walk in and it's like, almost like Cheers. ‘Hey, Norm. Hey, Joe. Hey, Dave. Hey, Fred.’ And the people, they know you.” 

That sense of camaraderie is something the club is willing to fight for, as they are currently reaching out to the state for an exemption. 

“The law is all about inconvenience,” Trottman said. “I'm not giving up. I’ve done this my whole life. I've done this with my father. I do with my brother. It's family.” 

State Senator Pam Helming introduced a bill on Aug. 15 that would authorize the possession of firearms at sport shooting and target practice facilities regardless of the current restrictions.

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