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Kearns urges deadline extension for pistol permit renewals

Mike Desmond, WBFO

Erie County Clerk Michael Kearns is urging Albany to push back a deadline to renew tens of thousands of gun permits, as required by New York State's SAFE Act.

Under the SAFE Act, permits five years and older must be renewed by January 31, 2018. Kearns is among those concerned that thousands will not be ready to meet that deadline. 

"If you do not re-certify, it would be an automatic revocation of your license," he said. "You could lose all your firearms and there could be a possible felony. That hasn't been discussed, what the due process will be, but this is a very serious matter."

Kearns says his office is providing services to gun owners including free printouts of which guns are subject to re-certification. He estimates there could be in excess of 50,000 people affected by this law.

What also concerns the new Erie County Clerk is a lack of consistent records statewide.

"We don't have a shared database. There isn't a common unified (database) like the auto bureau," he said. "There's not one database for all the clerks.'

Kearns plans to travel to Albany and, along with other members of the New York Association of County Clerks, urge state lawmakers - his former peers - to extend the deadline. He also plans to petition the governor.

"We need more time. February 1 should not be the deadline," he said. "I'm going to draft a letter to the governor, expressing that we need more time. We should not be making law-abiding citizens into criminals based on them not re-certifying."

As a State Assemblyman, Kearns voted against the SAFE Act.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.