Year wait as demand for pistol permits grows

Posted at 7:36 PM, Jan 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-07 08:20:03-05

It already takes a long time to get a pistol permit in Erie and Niagara counties and with President Barack Obama's announcement about a plan for gun control, that wait may increase.

The number of people looking to get a pistol permit is increasing so much that it is overwhelming the Niagara County Clerk's Office.

"Two hundred-fifty applications just since December 1st," said Niagara County Clerk Joseph Jastrzemski.

Niagara County added two additional workers to help process the applications, and the pistol permit office is closed on Wednesdays to the public so the staff can try and process piles of applications.

"It has been very overwhelming," said Sheila Feind, a veteran employee in the clerk's office.

Erie County is also seeing a big increase in demand for gun permits which requires the allocation of extra personnel and time to process them.

Right now, it takes about 10 months to get a pistol permit approved in Erie County.

Niagara County has a longer wait time at 12 to 14 months, but the cost is only $3 compared to Erie County, which charges $20 for the permits.

Processing a pistol permit is a labor-intensive undertaking that requires background checks, four character references, an in-home interview by police for the applicant, and a final review by a judge.

The top reasons that hold up applications are incomplete or false information about past arrests or mental health matters.

"People think we won't find out, but we do," explained Jastrzemski.

It is recommended that competent character references are listed who will mail back questionnaires about the applicant quickly. Also, information about divorces and separations have to be disclosed.

There are currently 30,000 gun permit holders in Niagara County with a backlog of 600 applications still waiting for a judge's hearing.

To help speed things up, newly-elected County Court Judge James Bargnesi, a former district attorney for Erie County, is being assigned to help Niagara County Judge Matt Murphy review the applications.

For those hoping to get a permit, officials recommend getting your application in soon with all the required information.




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