Local lawmakers seek delay of state pistol permit deadline

Published Jan 11, 2018 at 4:00pm

Three area state lawmakers are seeking to delay the Jan. 31 deadline for pistol permit recertification, warning that hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who’ve yet to recertify could face criminal charges otherwise.

Two assemblymen want to roll back the deadline through legislation while a state senator has written to the governor asking the deadline be put on hold.

Under the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, gun owners who acquired their pistol permits prior to the act’s January 2013 passage have to recertify before the end of this month — and every five years thereafter. However, many pistol permit holders have yet to comply with this SAFE Act requirement. 

Assemblymen Marc W. Butler, R-118, Newport, and Brian D. Miller, R-101, New Hartford, have introduced legislation to extend the recertification deadline by a year, to Jan. 31, 2019. They note that of the estimated 1.25 million pistol permit holders in the state, only 204,000 had recertified as of December.

“This bureaucratic quagmire concerning pistol recertification is a real threat which could turn many otherwise law-abiding citizens into criminals,” said Butler. “Since so many handgun owners are confused over the law, have received no notification from the state police, and with additional questions being raised by our county clerks, New York must give additional time for this to be sorted out.”

The New York State Association of County Clerks has written to the governor, raising questions over the consequence of missing the deadline, what due process permit holders were afforded, the role regarding the licensing officer, and who is responsible for license revocations and weapon seizures.

Hundreds of thousands of law-abiding residents may unknowingly find themselves guilty of a felony through no fault of their own, according to Miller.

“It remains unclear how many permit holders have been notified of the need to recertify and how many have not. That is unacceptable,” he said. “Even worse, because of this flaw in the system, permit holders would be forced to surrender their handguns and possibly their long guns as well due to the nature of the crime. Permit holders must be properly informed and given due notice to recertify instead of being labeled as criminals due to flawed policy.”

In a letter sent Thursday to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, R-47, Rome, requested that the governor grant an extension to pistol permit holders who are required recertify by the end of January. He also is requesting that anyone who completes the recertification process be given acknowledgement that they have done so.

The senator reports low compliance with the recertification mandate among counties in his district.

Out of the approximate 26,000 permit holders in Oneida County, about 5,000 have recertified so far. In Lewis County, out of the approximately 5,000 permit holders required to recertify, 1,866 have done so as of Jan. 10. And in St. Lawrence County, 6,650 permit holders out of about 17,000 have gone through the recertification process as of Jan. 10.

The story is much the same in Madison County, according to County Clerk Mike Keville. He said this week that 2,172 of the 7,389 pistol permit holders in his county who received their license more than five years ago have recertified in accordance with state law.

See related story for additional information on Madison County, page 4.