Erie Co. Clerk: 69 percent of pistol permit holders are not in compliance of law

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Less than half of all Erie County pistol permit holders are in compliance with the Safe Act.

That’s according to Erie County Clerk Michael Kearns, who was just sworn into his first full four-year term on Wednesday.

“Right now today, there are probably 69 percent of people that are out of compliance in Erie County.

That means only 31 percent of pistol permit holders are following the law. To put that number in perspective, New York State Police data suggests Erie County has the second highest compliance rate in the state.

The first-ever, five-year pistol permit re-certification deadline was January 31 of 2017.

The consequences of failing to do so, according to a provision of the Safe Act, is that your pistol permit would be revoked and you could face a felony charge, but a year later – it hasn’t been enforced.

“At any point in time, the Governor has the power to ask the State Police to enforce this law,” Kearns said.

After state and local leaders urged last year’s deadline be pushed back, New York State Police said it would not take criminal action against those who unknowingly failed to re-certify. That’s still the case.

“Because this wasn’t intended to be a ‘gotchya,’ that’s why state police decided we’re not going to criminally enforce this for someone who we might have an interaction with that says ‘Hey, I didn’t know I was supposed to re-certify.’ You know, we want to give them a chance, make sure they’re aware of the process,” said Beau Duffy, Director of Public Information for New York State Police.

Kearns says he’s done his best to spread the word.

“There has been mixed signals coming from the Governor, who has said ‘we want more gun legislation’. But we can’t even get the gun legislation that we have…at least one provision of it…complete,” Kearns said.

New 4 reached out to the Governor’s office to ask when and how re-certification will be enforced. The Governor’s office passed our request on to New York State Police, who got back to us Thursday.

NYSP Director of Public Information Beau Duffy said while Kearns isn’t wrong, the two are looking at different data. Duffy says compliance rates are higher statewide.

Of the 372,388 mailed notification letters to permit holders’ addresses provided by the local licensing offices, 353,752 pistol permit holders in New York State have re-certified. That said, he recognizes it’s an imperfect system and not every gun owner is accounted for yet.

The goal, Duffy says, is to have more accurate pistol permit records at the state and local levels.

Democrats, who now control the state legislature, have made their intentions clear to possibly pass more gun laws into 2019. Kearns hopes that they keep in mind that the one from 2013 has still not been fully enforced, but he is preparing for the likelihood that new laws may be passed.

You can apply for re-certification with New York State Police, but county clerks across the state process the applications. It’s easy to do online via the state police website, but there are paper forms available to mail in.

Kearns says his staff will work with anyone at his downtown office who wants help navigating the process.

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