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Erie County Clerk asking for clarity from state on new pistol permit guidelines

Posted at 6:34 PM, Jul 26, 2022

BUFFALO (WKBW) — Erie County Clerk Michael Kearns is voicing his frustration over what he says is a lack of clarity surrounding new state requirements for pistol permit applications.

"It's hard to implement a plan without knowing what those other requirements will be", Kearns tell 7 News.

The new guidelines, part of New York's new gun legislation, are set to take effect on September 1st. "There is just so much in the legislation and there hasn't been any communication with the clerk's association"

Over the last two and a half years the Erie County Clerk's Office says it has received more than 15,500 pistol permit applications, with more than 700 coming in over the last thirty days.

Under the new state guidelines Kearns says all applicants must meet in-person with a licensing officer for an interview, and the required safety training will also increase from four hours, to sixteen hours.

"Those are huge changes", says Peter Vasilion, a local attorney with more than twenty years of practicing gun law.

"Frankly the interview portion is good," say Vasilion. "I've always had concerns that people are not treated as individuals as opposed to being treated as a disembodied number."

As for the increased training requirement, Vasilion also sees value.

"It's going to be easy to get that sixteen hours," says Vasilion. "Frankly that is very doable. It's an inconvenience to some people, but in my personal opinion you can't cover what you need to cover in four hours."

Still Vasilion tells 7 News he understands the questions and the push back over the new requirements.

"I think for the majority of the applicants they are a bit much. I think most of the people want a handgun in the home to defend themselves and their loved ones at home. I don't think the majority of people seeking handguns are seeking to carry them on the street."

Meantime Clerk Kearns says its status quo for his office as he waits for more guidance from the state.

"This is an unfunded mandate," says Kearns. "Who is going to pay for these instructors? Who is going to pay for this additional stuff?" "Is this about safety or is this about barriers to owning guns in New York State?"

A spokesperson from Governor Hochul released this statement to 7 News late Tuesday afternoon.

"“Governor Hochul signed landmark legislation developed to comply with the Supreme Court’s recent decision in NYSRPA v. Bruen and drafted in close collaboration with the legislature. We have no further comment given pending litigation.”