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Demand for guns rising in New York

Across New York, thousands of residents are getting pistol permits, with the applications rising rapidly statewide.

Experts list rising fear of crime, with a Pew Research study saying half of gun owners cite self-protection as the reason for purchasing a weapon. There is also widespread concern about the results of this year's presidential election affecting gun ownership.

Others believe the rush for pistol permits is one of the unintended consequences of Governor Cuomo's controversial moves on gun control.

"The SAFE Act was implemented in 2013," offered Cattaraugus County Clerk Alan Bernstein. 

"In 2011, we issued 325 pistol permits. In 2012, we did 600. '13, we did over a thousand. '14, over 1,600. "

Cattaraugus County has 80,000 residents and 15,000 carry permits.

In Erie County, Clerk Chris Jacobs sees the permit totals rising from 60,000 to 70,000.

Each county handles the process a little differently, with Bernstein only filing a granted permit. In Erie County, it's a mix of a judge and the county clerk's office.

Chautauqua County Sheriff Joe Gerace says his office issues permits to those entitled to have them.

"The majority of the permits we issue are what we call unrestricted. Since I've taken office that's been our goal, to get people that are legally authorized to have unrestricted permits, " said Gerace who pegged the current total of permit holders in his county at 20,000.
His office also tracks death records in order to keep tabs on guns and their legal permit holders.

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.