BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Until the S.A.F.E. Act passed in 2013, gun owners applied for their pistol permits at the County Clerk’s office and once it was approved, no further action was required.

Then former Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the SAFE Act, one of the toughest gun control measures in the country, which required recertification every five years.

“In order to stay in compliance with New York State, every five years you need to recertify and report the number of firearms you have with the New York State Police,” said Erie County Clerk Michael Kearns.

While applicants initially apply for their pistol permits with the county clerk, recertifications are processed by State Police. The first re-certifications had to be submitted by the end of January 2017, so Kearns and county clerks across the state are bracing for a surge of applications through the month.

“It is not for the whole year. If you recertify in January of 2017 it would be coming up now in January 2022,” added Kearns.

The SAFE Act was passed to give law enforcement a better accounting of handguns in the state, but Kearns says it might have promoted gun sales, at least in Erie County, which have nearly tripled in the five years since he took office.

“Since I became the clerk, when I first initially became the clerk in 2017, we saw approximately 2,500 pistol permit applications. Last year we had nearly 7,000,” said Kearns.

Kearns says there are two ways a gun owner can apply for re-certification, fill out a paper re-certification form, which you can pick up at the Clerk’s office and mail to the State Pistol Permit Bureau in Albany or online at safeact.ny.gov.

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