Gun Law Could Cause Backlog for Permits

1:14 AM, Jan 16, 2013   |    comments
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Photo: AP

BUFFALO, N.Y. - As the historic gun control law goes into effect, some local counties say it will cost taxpayers.

That's because county clerk departments that issue permits to gun owners, now have another job of renewing permits every five years.

This will be a big change for these departments and for gun owners with pistols, because its never been required, until now.

"Right now, previous to [Tuesday], previous to the law being passed, you would get a pistol permit and it's a lifetime permit, now, it's termed every five years you have to re-certify," said Christopher Jacobs, the Republican clerk of Erie County.

Some county clerk departments, like the one Jacob's runs, have small staffs and are busy. They say the mandate will be a massive undertaking and cause department costs to rise. Jacobs says the cost for the gun owner to renew would be free, but that hidden costs will likely be passed onto taxpayers. For example, in Erie County, there are about 75,000 pistol permit holders. Jacobs says more people will need to be hired to work longer hours to renew these permits every five years.

"We have a lot of people coming everyday in our offices with limited staff, now to have to [be] renewing them or re-certifying them, to do that with our existing staff is not feasible," said Jacobs.

He says he's not opposed to re-certifying handguns, just wants to know if the state will help fund this effort.

"If we don't increase staff, you're going to see much longer lines and much more wait times for the permits," he said.

Longer wait times and extra costs are things plenty of lawmakers are also concerned about in Niagara County, where about 29,000 gun owners with pistol permits live.

"You know that's going to be spread not in one year, but over multiple years, it's going to become a continuous process and there's a cost to the taxpayer," said David Godfrey, a Republican Niagara County legislator, who represents the 10th District.
Owen Steed, a Democrat, who represents the 4th District believes cost shouldn't even enter into this discussion.

"My major concern is that we don't become a Newtown, Connecticut, one day. It's saying not to pick up your kid from school to identify them laying on a gym floor," he said.

Some Republicans say that it's the average gun owner who will bear unnecessary checks.

Right now, there's an eight to ten month process to apply for and eventually get a pistol permit and the gun. This includes fingerprinting to going through mental health and background checks. County leaders say this time frame could be even longer.

Another task the clerk departments will be responsible for is monitoring which permit holders wish to keep their addresses private or public knowledge.



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