County residents express opinions about youth deer hunting law waiting on Poloncarz’s signature

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — 12 and 13-year-olds may soon be able to legally hunt deer with a gun in Erie County.

Until recently, New York was the only state that didn’t allow this age group to hunt big game with a gun. Earlier this year, the state passed a law allowing it with adult supervision.

Counties have the option to opt in and Erie is the only upstate county that hasn’t.

The county legislature already voted 6-5 to pass the law. It’s now just waiting on County Executive Mark Poloncarz’s signature.

The county held a second public hearing on the issue Tuesday morning.

People on both sides of the argument came out to express their opinions. Maureen Schiener hopes Poloncarz doesn’t sign it into law.

“This proposal it shouldn’t go through because it is a safety issue, not just animal rights, it’s safety for humans, for the hunters,” she said.

Jack Bouquin has been a volunteer sportsman educator for the past 35 years. He also taught his children to hunt and hopes to teach his grandchildren when they turn 12.

“Yeah, I can take my grandchildren out in the woods for a walk, it’s a little bit different when they have the incentive of maybe taking their first deer or seeing game out there,” Bouquin said.

Arguments surrounding safety were brought up by both sides.

“They’re very lethal weapons and they’re very fast and the fact for a 12 or 13-year-old handling something like that, even if they’re accompanied by and adult hunter, it’s very dangerous,” Schiener said.

“Gun violence has very very little to do, if anything to do with really, with young kids hunting with their parents in the woods. Exposure to firearms and the safe handling of firearms at a young age has a positive impact on them as being responsible gun owners and knowing the damage something could do- a firearm could do,” Bouquin said.

Poloncarz will now review the information from the public hearing and make a decision whether or not to sign this into law.

Kayla Green is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.

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