Rochester, N.Y— An action-packed gun fighting scene is commonplace in many Hollywood flicks and television shows.
That’s why Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other lawmakers are hoping to make a change to the gun law passed last month that would make television and movie productions exempt from the assault-weapons ban.
“Should you be able to use these types of guns in movies? The answer is ‘Yes’,” said Gov. Cuomo on Wednesday. “We spend a lot of money in the state to bring in movie production and post production here. Obviously we would want to facilitate that.”
When many gun rights’ advocates heard about the proposed exception to the gun control law, they were angry— saying Hollywood was getting special treatment.
Fred Calcaglo is the owner of American Sportsman, a gun shop in East Rochester. He describes the exemption as a “rubbing salt on a wound.”
“It’s an insult as far as I’m concerned,” Calcaglo said. “It’s an insult to honest citizens in New York state. It’s hypocritical on their part. They tell us we should not have that type of firearm or magazine. Now they’re telling Hollywood to come here and make a movie glorifying that type of firearm or magazine so they can make money from it?”
Even those who don’t have a strong stance on gun control issues seem to understand the concerns.
Churchville resident Marilyn Vanneil is a mother and grandmother. While she doesn’t mind responsible citizens owning guns, she doesn’t own any of her own and tries to prevent her young grandchild from being exposed to violence on TV. She says she’s puzzled to hear that the state is considering an exemption.
“At first thought, it seems like it’s a conflict of values,” said Churchville resident Marilyn Vanneil. “We say one thing on one hand, but we do another thing.”
Democratic Assemblyman Joe Morelle explains that the film and TV industry makes hundreds of millions of dollars for the state each year in revenue.
“There are more films and episodic televisions shows being filmed in New York now than in the history of this state,” he explained.
He says the state has often made exceptions for theatrical performances and the arts. He says supporting TV and movies filmed in New York state isn’t contrary to the state’s goal of stopping gun violence.
He believes viewers wouldn’t compare the violence on TV and film to the violence in real life.
“What happens on television and movies is make believe,” he said. “It's entertainment. It bears no resemblance to what happens in real life. I don't think anyone believes that watching ‘Gunsmoke’ has led to people becoming criminals or being active in gun violence.”