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There's a rush to apply for gun carry permits, with new rules kicking in at midnight in New York State

Erie County clerk staffer helping an applicant fill out a form to get a gun permit
Mike Desmond
An Erie County clerk staffer helps an applicant fill out a form to get a gun permit Aug. 30, 2022.

The U.S. Supreme court recently threw out most of New York State’s gun regulations and Albany reacted by passing new legislation. There are a series of court cases challenging the new rules. That’s especially true of the new law restricting where that weapon can be carried, into “sensitive” locations.

Wednesday at midnight is the application deadline for someone to get one of the new “carry” permits, without being required to take 16 hours of training and do two hours of actual weapon firing. There are many applications.

Niagara County already has 39,000 carry permits, and County Clerk Joe Jastrzemski said he has received nearly a thousand new applications in the last 12 days, with Albany not providing much help.

“We have gotten some information. We got a question and answer sheet that answered a lot of our questions. We still have some questions that are unanswered but, hopefully, we're going to have those answers sooner than later," he said.

However, those hoping that they could avoid complying with the new law by applying for a permit by the end of the day will not be able to do so. Gov. Kathy Hochul said Wednesday that the old rules will only cover those who already possess a valid gun permit on Sept. 1, not those whose applications are in process.

Still, Erie County Clerk Mickey Kearns said he received 600 applications on Monday. He’s been keeping his West Seneca Auto Bureau open extra hours to help people fill out the forms and will stay open to midnight Wednesday.

Kearns said the new rules aren’t fair because of those “sensitive” locations.

“And they are carrying and they are not allowed to be in that premises and they don't get permission to carry in that premises, that person could get an E felony, if they are found to be in one of those sensitive areas," he said. "So, it's really confusing for the public that they are going to criminalize people for carrying a pistol.”

Alafias Ontrell Satcher just wants a permit and a gun and go target shooting with his son, who already has a permit and a weapon. He was in the West Seneca office Tuesday to get some application help.

Satcher said he’s not as concerned about the personal protection aspect of a weapon.

“I don't live my life like anticipating or worrying and wondering about something might happen. Maybe I should but I'm just not that type of person," he said. "Again, my main reason is for target shooting.”

Going into this rush, Kearns said Erie County already has 90,000 residents with a carry permit.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect Hochul's announcement that the old rules will only cover those who already possess a valid gun permit on Sept. 1.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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