Society

New York Film Industry Wants Exemption From The State's New Gun Laws

| by Jonathan Wolfe
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Out of all the groups you’d expect to criticize gun control measures, who would have thought Hollywood would be one of them?

Directors and executives from the entertainment industry are speaking out against New York’s recent ban on assault weapon and 10-round magazine clips, saying the restrictions will make it difficult to purchase the weapons for shows and movies in the state.

The restrictions have many in the film industry calling for a “Hollywood exemption,” which would require a revote to allow the purchase and use of banned weapons for cinematic purposes. But New York lawmakers are hesitant to do a revote on the bill to add this exemption. They have faced such high levels of scrutiny and criticism from conservative voters in the state that the last thing they want to do is draw more attention to the ban.

An exemption was likely left out of the original bill because it was written and voted on so quickly. Pro-gun control legislators proposed the bill earlier in the year when public outrage in the country was high wake of the Newtown shootings. The Senate approved the measure on their first day in session. Many lawmakers, along with almost the entire general public, did not have an opportunity to read or debate the bill before it was voted on and passed.

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Hasty passing aside, entertainment executives say the bill needs revision or else the filming industry will be forced to relocate to other states. That is the last thing New Yorkers want, as the industry accounted for 46,000 jobs and millions of dollars in revenue in 2011.

“You’d hate to lose a $100 million picture because there was a scene in it that required automatic weapons and we were unable to accommodate them,” said John Ford, the president of Local 52 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.

“If there’s not a little wiggle room in there for us, then they’ll make the movies somewhere else. It’ll just cost us jobs,” Ford added.

Although the NYPD already grants permits for the use of banned firearms in theatrical production, the rest of the state’s local law enforcement lacks in this department. That could make using firearms in filming locations outside of NYPD’s jurisdiction a difficult and time-consuming process.

Ryder Washburn, vice president of the Specialists, a company specializing in firearm sales for dramatic productions, warned that New York’s film industry will not hesitate to leave if exemptions aren’t made.

“Our generators are on wheels, our carts are on wheels, our trucks are on wheels,” he said. “Everything is on wheels, and it goes where it’s wanted.”

Source: NY Times