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Large crowd turns out to discuss gun rights in Niagara County, where 17% are gun owners

Mike Desmond
A large crowd turned out in Niagara County to hear about their gun rights.

New York has the SAFE Act for gun control and gun rights supporters have the Heller Supreme Court decision, which tossed out Washington, D.C.'s gun laws. Heller supporters were in North Tonawanda Thursday night in large numbers at the Stephen Sikora Post to hear the latest.For the crowd, there were two key issues: the consumer details of getting pistol permits renewed and concern over more gun control legislation in Albany.

Sen. Rob Ortt told the crowd that with the Republican defeat in the state Senate election, Democrats control Albany and New York City Democrats have lots of gun control legislation in the hopper, although it is getting very late in the State Legislature session for major bills.

Ortt said legislative proposals to essentially legalize prostitution show how strange things are in Albany.

"We've begun to criminalize activities that used to be legal and protected, and we're now decriminalizing  activities that used to be. We've sort of turned everything on its head," Ortt said. "What used to be good is now bad and what used to be bad is now good. Think about that. The Second Amendment is bad, but trading your body for money for sex is good."

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News
Niagara County Clerk Joe Jastrzemski talks recertification guidelines.

Niagara County Clerk Joe Jastrzemski said there are just over 35,000 pistol permit holders in the county and there are more permits issued all the time.

"We have 200,000 residents in Niagara County. Of the 200,000 residents in Niagara County, there are 35,426 pistol permit holders," he said. "And it continues to grow every day. The more they try to take your gun rights away, the busier we get in our office."

The county clerk said it used to take up to two years to get a permit. Now, he said, if the paperwork is aligned, it can be done in six weeks.

Jastrzemski and County Legislator Randy Bradt explained the complicated rules for keeping those permits by getting them renewed under those rules. The county clerk said there are special sessions of his office in North Tonawanda each month and staffers can explain renewal rules. Bradt said paper permits need to be updated.

"If you still have a paper one...I remember my old green one. I fold it in half and you couldn't see jack diddley on it any more," he said. "If you have the paper, go get the updated one, as Joe is saying. That's the way we can help you, the help that gentleman asked right there. How we can help you when you need to recertify, guys. You take that step, we'll take the next and help you."

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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