ELMA, N.Y. (WIVB) — A new law went into effect on Wednesday, changing the way the state handles background checks for firearms and ammunition. It’s part of the Concealed Carry Improvement Act that Gov. Kathy Hochul passed last year.
New York is now a point of contact state, meaning the New York State Police NICS Unit will process National Instant Criminal Background Checks (NICS) when a customer tries to purchase a firearm. NYSP NICS will contact the FBI to determine if the buyer qualifies to purchase the gun.
For ammunition, the division of the state police will check a state record system to decide if a customer is permitted to purchase ammunition. This state background check is a new system.
Previously, there was no ammunition background check and gun shops submit requests directly to FBI NICS without passing through the state.
“They’re putting excess burden on systems that are already working,” Jeff Benty, CEO of Just Holster It Firearms and Training Center in Elma told News 4. “That communication [between the shop and FBI] is severed off and we have to pass through the state, so basically the state has used their government authority to inject themselves in the middle and now charge customers a toll fee.”
Customers have to pay $9 per firearm background check and $2.50 per ammunition background check. The state says the money collected will pay for the new background check system.
Benty says he did not receive information to train his staff on the new system until Tuesday afternoon and he is afraid the new law may drive customers away.
“We had several checks today, firearms went no problem, but we had many people delayed on the ammunition check, which once they walk out the door, they may come back or they may not,” Benty explained. “You’re going to see more people being more conservative about not going out, not buying a new firearm, or if they do buy ammunition, it is going to be intermittent.”
Justin DiPasquale had to visit two gun stores to get what he needed. He says the ammunition check was new and required an email address, social security number and other personal details.
“Luckily for me, it came back in like under a minute. There was a gentleman that was there for an hour and a half. Filled out all of his stuff before I even got up there and his was still processing,” DiPasquale explained. “It was just a lot of steps. At the end of the day, I guess it’s good, but it was really inconvenient.”
An ammunition background check will be denied by the state if the buyer:
- Has been convicted of a felony offense
- Is a fugitive from justice
- Is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance
- Has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to a mental institution
- Is illegally or unlawfully in the United States, or has been admitted to the United States under a nonimmigrant visa (with limited exceptions)
- Has been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions
- Has renounced U.S. citizenship, after having been a citizen of the United States
- Is subject to a qualifying order of protection that restrains the purchaser from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or child of such intimate partner
- Has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence
- Is under indictment for felony offense
According to the NYSP NICS Unit, all firearms and ammunition dealers must be registered for the online system and background checks can be submitted 24/7. A background check is not considered public record, and should not be disclosed to any person unauthorized by law.
If denied, a potential buyer can appeal the decision within 30 days. The state then has 30 days to provide a reason for denial. The buyer can then appeal to the Attorney General if they disagree with the decision.
Just Holster It is concerned if the online system goes down, all sales will have to stop. Currently, all background checks are being completed online. An automated phone system will be rolled out in October, per New York State.
This law is one of several steps the Hochul Administration has taken to strengthen gun reform. Gun shops are now required to secure ammunition and firearms as well as have a security system with cameras inside and outside the store. The shop is also required to maintain the security footage for two years.
Gov. Hochul released the following statement on Tuesday:
Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued an order rejecting the latest attempt to halt New York’s nation-leading gun safety laws taking effect tomorrow and to block a related law that has been in effect since December 2022. The Concealed Carry Improvement Act passed last year after I convened a special session of the Legislature to address the Supreme Court’s reckless overturning of gun safety regulations that had kept New York safe for more than a century. This new order from Justice Sotomayor will ensure that the legislation’s provisions related to stronger background checks for guns and ammunition, set to take effect on September 13, will continue to move full speed ahead, and the law requiring periodic onsite inspections of firearms dealers remains intact. Public safety is my top priority, and I’m committed to doing everything in my power to keep New Yorkers safe.Governor Kathy Hochul
Tara Lynch is a Buffalo native and Emmy-nominated reporter who joined the News 4 team in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, N.Y., a sister station of News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of her work here.