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“Should children be allowed to handle guns?” asks. “In Rensselaer County, two probation officers say yes — although it is unclear if the practice is legal.” I know what you’re thinking: how can it be illegal for a child to touch a gun? Two words: Empire State. According to Article 265 – § 265.01 of the New York Penal Code “A person is guilty of criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree when (1) He or she possesses any firearm . . .” Yup. “Possesses” as in holds. And therein lies our divorce-driven tale of not one, not two, but at least THREE children touching, indeed handling firearms . . .

Court papers obtained by the Times Union show that two of the county’s probation officers said under oath that they allowed their young children to handle their unloaded service weapons as a way to satisfy the children’s curiosity about guns.

The accounts surfaced in an Albany County Family Court battle between one of the officers and her estranged husband, who questioned his wife’s decision. In court papers, the probation officer, Kelly Miazga, said she allowed her sons — ages 9 and 10 at the time — to handle her weapon on Oct. 26, 2011. [pictured above]

“I first unloaded the gun outside of their presence, then showed the children that it was unloaded and allowed them to handle the gun under my supervision,” she said in a statement. “I did not allow them to pull the trigger or point the gun in any direction. I explained how a gun works and how dangerous it is to touch a gun under any circumstances.”

Illegal! Immoral! Fattening! Well, maybe not calorific. But certainly a HIGHLY DANGEROUS ACT. And it’s no good saying that you allowed a child to touch a gun to tell them that they should never touch a gun UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.

In an email, Miazga’s husband, Robert Miazga of Latham, told the Times Union he was “floored” that his sons had been allowed to touch his wife’s service gun.

“While the rest of the country is fighting to keep handguns out of our children’s hands, (my wife) and (Van Aken) are claiming that it is the policy of Rensselaer County to hand over the county’s Glock semiautomatic handguns to 9- and 10-year-olds and … saying they are following NRA policy,” he wrote.

Dude, this shit is real.

A high-ranking police officer in Albany County, speaking on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the family court case, said he was surprised that probation officers in Rensselaer County would allow children so young to handle even unloaded weapons. The officer said he showed his guns to his children when they were teenagers, but never let them handle them.

“Personally, I think that’s way too young,” the officer said. “I don’t think they’re mature enough.”

I’d be laughing if this was funny. But it’s not. Children should be taught hands-on gun safety as soon as possible. Remember: I’m not joking about the “you can’t touch this” part of New York state gun laws.

The Albany Police Department’s policy is that members should instruct their families on the dangers of their weapons.
“At no time should the children of an Albany police officer handle their firearm,” said Officer Steve Smith, a spokesman for the Albany Police Department.

Patrick Smith, director of the Zone 5 Law Enforcement Academy, which trains local police officers, said the academy takes pains to ensure that no one without authority touches a gun because the law does not allow anyone without a pistol permit or a badge to do so.

And just in case you think that kind of blatant infringement on Americans’ constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms is completely nuts—and it is—check this forum entry from DaveTrig over at

When I became an instructor, I went nuts talking to the Putnam Sheriffs Dept, Westchester Cty Police, and local DA’s, trying to find a way to do range time with students before they had their permits. In strict adherence to the the law, the only way is with a pre-license exemption under 400.00 3(b).

Oh and one more thing. Probation officers. Cops. One rule for them, one rule for everyone else.

Jayne Jesmain, counsel to Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, D-Brooklyn, who chairs the Assembly Codes Committee, which deals with every piece of crime legislation in New York, said she did not believe the Rensselaer County probation officers broke any gun laws. She said because they are trained officers and were present at the time, the officers would be considered to have been in “constructive possession” of the weapons.

Welcome to America.

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  1. If I recall correctly, in New York and New Jersey it is in fact illegal for anyone regardless of age to even TOUCH a handgun without a state-issued handgun permit. This fact is why out-of-state travelers who transit NY/NJ Port Authority airports with legal firearms get arrested on local charges.

    It sucks that NY is so communist in this regard, but the law is the law. While kids should be taught the truths of gun safety at a young age, in NY that’s illegal. Had an ordinary citizen been found out to have done the same thing they’d be in prison on child endangerment and who knows how many other charges the hoplophic DA could think of.

    • It even better, there is no practical portion of the safety test because they are not allowed to handle a firearm. We get a lot of NY residents who come over the border for their safety course because we actually have practical portion.

    • ST, it’s even worse than that in NJ. Literally every gun shop I’ve been to won’t let me handle ANY firearms unless I show them my fid card first. It doesn’t matter if I have my driver’s license on the counter and I want to handle a pellet rifle (we have to do 4473 forms on those here), no fid, no handling of anything. Don’t know if it’s state law. I have a feeling FFLs just do it to cover their asses. You can never be too careful here.

    • I live in NJ. The way the law is written it is illegal to possess a handgun, with a few exceptions written. This really makes transportation rediculous. For transportation the exceptions are basically just between your home and the gun range. If you deviate from your path home from the range for a quick stop at Home Depot, are then pulled over for any reason, and it is discovered you have a firearm in the vehicle, you will be charged with illegal possesion of a firearm and face up to 7, yes 7, years in prison. I attended a lawyer Q&A at my local gun range recently and he expressed and confirmed the horrors of this. It makes no difference how many locks are between you and your firearm.

      On a related note, among others, I am actively looking for new employment, with PA as a top candidate.

      • try Virginia, we have both OC and CC here, along with some of the most relaxed defense laws outside of a Castle Doctrine and STG laws.

  2. Thank God I don’t like living in the big cities!!!
    Ignorance of the laws of common sense seems to be much worse of a problem than a licensed legal firearm owner teaching their kids about firearms safety.
    What a bunch of dipshits!!

  3. I hate it when the origonal article doesn’t allow comments. I think the most egregious sentance was, “Federal law prohibits delivering or ‘otherwise transferring’ a gun to anyone under 18 outside of limited circumstances.” How misleading is that? Besides being a very slanted paraphrase, it has no bearing in this context.

    • Okay, first time through I thought this was just a perfect storm of hoplophobes that made for a sad but true news article. Beginning to understand that the hoplophobic group of consequence already convened and they were called the NY legislature. Very eye opening. Thanks to the commenters for clarifying that this is a seemingly legitimate question under their law. Now I’m floored.

    • Read the Federal Youth Handgun Safety Act. I purchased two handguns with the intent of giving them to my oldest son when he turned 18. In compliance with Federal law, I would allow him to carry them when he was checking fields, fences, hunting, and trapping while still a minor. Written parental consent is required to be carried by minors while they are in possession of a handgun.

  4. Thinking back to being in the sixth grade, (What is that 10 or 11 years old?)in the great state of Texas, taking my shotgun, shells (and lunch) on the school bus so I could hunt at my friend’s place across town. I would drop my gun and shells off at the principal’s office for the day, then pick them up after school and go, via another school bus to my buddie’s house to hunt until dark. Didn’t seem to do us much damage touching all those guns. Didn’t bother anybody else either. 1967.

    • I have a similar story. In the early 50’s, my grandpa hopped on his bike and rode to the other side of his home town. Grandpa bought his first firearm, a J.C. Higgins bolt action 16 gauge shotgun, for ten bucks out of some old guy’s house.

      Here’s the fun part. Grandpa slung the shotgun over his back and rode home uninterrupted with a box of shells in the basket too. His friends and neighbors smiled and waved as he passed them. Not even the local cops batted an eyelash. This was in Connecticut in the early 50’s, my Grandpa was 16. I’d like to see anyone TRY to do that today in the so called “Constitution State.” As for the shotgun, it currently sits in my gun cabinet.

  5. In our local Gander Mountain (upstate NY) the clerks will not even take a handgun out of the case until you show them your handgun permit. Want to shop while waiting 6-8 months while your permit is being processed? Tough. Want to take a shooting/safety course while waiting? Tough. Unless it is a theoretical course where you don’t actually fire, hold, or even touch a handgun. Ex-combat soldier? Still can’t be trusted to touch a gun without the permit. This is how it is for grown-ups, so you can imagine the outrage when a child is allowed to touch a gun.

  6. “In an email, Miazga’s husband, Robert Miazga of Latham, told the Times Union he was “floored” that his sons had been allowed to touch his wife’s service gun.

    “While the rest of the country is fighting to keep handguns out of our children’s hands, (my wife) and (Van Aken) are claiming that it is the policy of Rensselaer County to hand over the county’s Glock semiautomatic handguns to 9- and 10-year-olds and … saying they are following NRA policy,” he wrote.”

    I guess she is divorcing her husband because she realized he is NY chapter member of The Peoples Union of Selfish Socialist Incompetent and Entitled Society.

    • I have never seen someone throw their spouse under the bus like this in a non-murder or otherwise really messed up case. This dude has no shame.

      Well played by the way.

      • Well too bad I didn’t video tape my divorce case while in court. You would have seen first hand the old adage about a woman’s scorn.
        Long story short she accused me of cheating, asked for full custody of our 13yr old son. With no visitation rights, and $150 a week in child support right up until my lawyer pulled out the photos of her and her now husband kissing at her work place and them in a bar 6 months before we went to court the first time. And the icing on the cake was when she told the judge that my two registered Brindle Boxers had run away and she did not know where they were, and my lawyer pulled out a copy of the classifieds with the advert for my two dogs for sale for $50 each(I paid $750 for the pair)!!!
        Got custody, my money back(the boxers were in a great home so I wasn’t going to take them away from their kids) and she got stuck with just over $49,000 worth of credit cards she had falsely obtained. Hated it for her you know?? NOT!!!
        Would love to sit in a big city divorce court for about a week and record some of the stuff that goes on, some would be absolutely hilarious!!

  7. Some people really are insane. In most places, the scenario above would be considered responsible behavior. Young kids learning gun safety under controlled circumstances (ammo free) from trained police officers.

    Really, how do you argue with someone who is so batsh&t crazy that they are having a raging fit over allowing a ten year old to handle an Unloaded gun under Direct supervision (of a trained police officer).

    This guy is trying to score points against his estranged wife.

    • I’m pretty sure the raging fit is all for the benefit of court. This guys probobly trying to keep visitation rights.

    • “This guy is trying to score points against his estranged wife.”

      Absolutely. If he only knew how it made him look and who really scored the points.

  8. Funny, didn’t Donnie Whalberg’s character (NYPD Det. Danny Reagan) do exactly the same same thing with his elder son on an episode of Blue Bloods? In fictional NYC, of all places!

  9. I agree with the probation officer 100%

    Many moons ago I and a girlfriend moved into an apartment together. Said girlfriend had a five year old daughter who had never been around firearms and was instantly fascinated with mine. My theory and practice was to take the fascination out of the guns.

    First I told her that any time she wanted to see one to tell me and I’d bring it out for her to see and hold (100% cleared mind you). In the first month she’d ask me a couple times a week. Second month maybe three times, third month once then never again.

    Second I took her out shooting and showed her exactly what a hot .357 Magnum would do to a watermelon. The blast and concussion from the .357 and the watermelon that was instantly disintegrated made a HUGE impression on her.

    I’ve long held the belief that if a parent or parents don’t want guns in the house that is their absolute right but if they truly want to make their kids much safer around guns they owe it to themselves and their kids to find someone into, and responsible with, guns to take their kids out at least once to show them that guns are no joke. Kids sheltered from guns grow up only knowing what they see on tv and as we all know that’s nothing but glorified, unrealistic bullshit.

    • This applies to a lot of things in life. A vacuum will be filled by something. That something can either be good, useful information, or whatever is randomly available from who knows what source. I know what I’d prefer to have on hand.

    • Yup, I have done the same thing with both daughters from a very early age. Take the mystery out and fill that void with knowledge and kids will really surprise you with how responsible they can be.

      Here’s a very responsible 7 year old (last summer) with a 10/22. She’s got ears and eyes on and punching holes through soda cans. Understands when the “range” is hot/cold and can’t wait to take hunter’s safety classes to go hunting with Papa. Proud much? You betcha!

  10. Sadly this wasn’t always the case in the Peoples Republic of New York. Back in the pre-cambrian 1960’s as an 8 year old, my old man would drive the boys to the range to go shooting. The range even had cut down rifles for kids. Also the urban/rural split exists in the state. Head outside of the cities and kids do shoot guns. Just no one bitches about it.

  11. It just makes you want to cry. I was shooting guns with my dad and grandfather when I was 6 years old. I got my first gun, a single shot 22 rifle, at 7. At 9, I got my first shotgun, a 20 ga. Browning A5, and at 15 had my first pistol, a Browning Challenger. Still have them all. Unfortunately, no kids to hand them down to.

  12. I don’t understand how that law has not been challenged in court. It seems clear that it’s unconstitutional but maybe a private citizen doesn’t have the resources (money) to do it without help from 2AF or NRA. WHAT’S UP WITH THAT?!

  13. How things change. When I was a kid in Chicago in the 50/60, my dad use to let me play with his 1911 from the war. He would unload and clear it and give it to me to play with to keep me occupied after school when I had to wait at his office to ride home with him. He was a Dr. I still wish my mom didn’t give that gun away after he died. Laws like they have in NY about kids handling guns wouldn’t fly here in Fl, as kids 9 and 10 and even younger are out hunting. Why do people put up with that crap? They need to vote out some state legislators up there.

  14. For every headline making story like this, there are countless unreported instances of NYers (usually at private ranges or on private land) letting kids handle and shoot handguns, letting people without permits try their handguns, or permit holders trying each other’s pistols (technically illegal).
    Sometimes I’m really ashamed of my home state, with all of its restrictions, especially after that jackdaw Schneiderman doing a victory dance after SAF’s defeat.

    • AaronW, you point out precisely what happens when the law is an ass: law-abiding people will be forced to surreptitiously flout it. Rather than turning criminals into law-abiding citizens, stupid laws turn law-abiding citizens into “criminals.” Then, just to make sure everyone knows We Mean Business!!! the authors of these inane laws devote resources to outing and prosecuting these same citizens for—quietly and without harming anyone else—trying to behave rationally. In the former Soviet republics, there was a whole underworld of people quietly helping each other to get around absurd laws and regulations. The same thing will happen here, maybe already is happening here, with the same corrosive effect on the legitimacy of the rule of law and of government generally.

  15. More proff that when you live in a Nanny State, like New York, that common sense does not apply! This is why, they can keep their “common sense” gun legislation.

    Thank God, I grew up in Michigan! My dad taught me to shoot when I was 10 years old, when after having my first bb gun, he bought me a .22 rifle! I had my own revolver at 14, although it was in my fathers name, because Michigan law did require registration.

    Back to these Nanny States. Bottom line is you can’t be trusted, government is the solution to all your issues. Your not trusted to teach your children gun safety or anything else, that goes against what the government deems appropriate.

    I live in Mississippi now. I am also a firearms instructor. Very impressed with the state of Mississippi, because they still REQUIRE Hunter Safety in SCHOOLS! That’s right, kids here, know the 4 golden safety rules and in my experience are very safe with firearms. Why? Because they are educated and it’s actually done in school, now there is a CONCEPT!

  16. I’m sorry. I must have blacked out and had some awful nightmare where I was reading TTAG in an America that didn’t have a Second Amendment. Good thing it was just a dream… all a dream…

  17. Why post the photo of the two kids? Is there a point to that? If you are going to troll the web for photos get a shot of one of the parents.

  18. This Saturday, I am teaching my 14 y.o. niece gun safety, going to a gun show to find a pistol that fits her hand, and then (maybe) to the range for some .22 training. (If not Saturday, then the range next weekend.)

  19. You see this is why there are so many hoplophobes in the first place because their parents didn’t expose them to firearms, and they watched movies and the news with bad guys carrying them; therefore, all firearms must be inherently bad. (Logic rules :p)

  20. Liberals insist that we teach sex education earlier and earlier so they don’t contribute to the teenage pregnancy statistics, but God forbid we teach our children about guns so they don’t contribute to the accidental shooting statistics.

  21. That is really messed up. I wonder how many criminals are charged with touching a handgun without a permit. Sounds more like something to throw otherwise law abiding citizens in prison. I started my kids out with a .22 lr rifle when they were 5. Before they turned 6, I took them hunting and helped them kill a rabbit. My youngest son started shooting a handgun, legally, when he was 8.

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