Calls SAFE Act requirement 'unneeded mandate'
By Christian W. Peck
Niagara County Public Information Officer
Niagara County Clerk Joseph A. Jastrzemski has added a computer and mail-in recertification forms to the Niagara County pistol permit office after the state launched a permit recertification website under rules imposed by the NY SAFE Act gun control law.
Under the law, pistol permit owners are required to "recertify" the information contained in their pistol permits every five years or be forced to surrender any handguns they own.
"I remain adamantly opposed to the SAFE Act, and am unhappy we have to take these steps to protect our permit holders' rights, but I also don't want to see any of our gun owners forced to surrender their firearms because of a pointless rule," Jastrzemski said on Monday.
Jastrzemski has added a computer terminal to the pistol permit office that will allow pistol permit holders to certify their permit information online at the State Police website. For those who prefer paper forms, Jastrzemski has printed copies of the State Police recertification forms that permit holders can fill out and mail in.
"Our pistol permit holders shouldn't have to do this, but if they don't, it's a State Police matter, and we have no say locally about the disposition of their guns," Jastrzemski said. "I'm offering the tools for them to remain in compliance with a very badly thought-out law, but nonetheless, I'm offering the tools for them to remain in compliance."
Jastrzemski raised objections late last year when the State Police had not yet provided county clerks - who administer pistol permits in most upstate counties - with a recertification website. Jastrzemski's main concern - beyond the lack of a website and clear guidance, he said - was that rural residents with poor access to the internet would be penalized by a process that, so far, has only been set up online.
"For the pistol permit holders that don't have the internet, or don't have computers, this is the best option I can offer," Jastrzemski said. "We don't want law-abiding people to lose their pistol permits."
The computer and paper forms are available during regular pistol permit office hours, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
Since becoming clerk, Jastrzemski, who formerly managed the Niagara County Sheriff's Office inmate labor program, has worked to increase the public access to the pistol permit office, most recently sending a mobile pistol permit office to regional gun shows in Hamburg and Wheatfield so buyers could easily amend their pistol permits.
Pistol permit holders may also recertify their permits at https://troopers.ny.gov/Firearms/.
All permits issued before Jan. 15, 2013, must be recertified by Jan. 31, 2018, under Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's gun control law.
Niagara County's government is on record calling for repeal of the SAFE Act.