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Pistol recertification town hall set for Falls


Wed, Dec 13th 2017 06:45 pm
Jastrzemski will talk with residents about SAFE Act requirement; 20,000 pistol permit holders in county still have not recertified & risk losing permits
By Christian W. Peck
Public Information Officer
Niagara County Clerk Joseph A. Jastrzemski knows an unpopular gun control law is raising lots of concerns for area residents, so Saturday he will be in Niagara Falls to help residents navigate new state-imposed legal requirements to keep their legally owned handguns.
Jastrzemski's renewed recertification push comes after receiving updated figures from the New York State Police that show, as of Monday, just 8,080 pistol permit holders in Niagara County have recertified. More than 28,000 of the county's pistol permit holders have permits issued more than five years ago, meaning they must recertify by Jan. 31, 2018, or they will no longer be able to legally own handguns in New York state.
Questions about the looming deadline for the pistol permit recertification requirement in the controversial NY SAFE Act have caused longer lines and added frustration for gun owners visiting the Niagara County Pistol Permit Office, Jastrzemski noted. He has been hosting town hall meetings about the new requirement around the county since mid-October.
Those meetings have been heavily attended, with hundreds of legal gun owners packing government buildings, community centers, and American Legion posts to sort through their responsibilities under Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's signature gun control law.
"Our law-abiding gun owners that followed the rules and got their permits more than five years ago never expected to have to do anything else, except continue to be law-abiding citizens, to exercise their Second Amendment right to defend themselves and their families," Jastrzemski said. "When Gov. Cuomo imposed these new rules on gun owners, what he ended up doing was causing a lot of confusion among people who just try to follow the law."
Jastrzemski noted new questions keep popping up at the town hall meetings - as well as many common ones - because the recertification rules "have been so poorly communicated to folks just trying to stay legal."
Cuomo's 2013 SAFE Act gun control law mandated pistol permit "recertification" on a five-year basis. The permits, issued for the life of the holder in most jurisdictions, now need to be "recertified" with the New York State Police by a Jan. 31 compliance deadline for pistol permits issued more than five years ago.
Saturday at 10 a.m., county lawmakers from Niagara Falls will welcome Jastrzemski to the John Duke Senior Center, 1201 Hyde Park Blvd. The legislators - Jason A. Zona, Owen T. Steed, Mark Grozio and Minority Leader Dennis F. Virtuoso - all noted many of their constituents exercise their right to own pistols or revolvers to keep their families safe.
"We've worked closely with Joe (Jastrzemski) and his staff at the pistol permit office to bring this to Niagara Falls because so many of our neighbors own guns to protect their families against actual lawbreakers, and want nothing more than to stay on the right side of the law themselves," Zona said. He was instrumental in bringing Jastrzemski to the Town of Niagara last month to meet with residents on the same topic.
"Everyone from firearms enthusiasts that normally hang out at the LaSalle Sportsmen's Club to firefighters to professionals to just everyday moms and dads came out in the Town of Niagara to get answers," Zona said. "We understand that a lot of people have questions, and we're just trying to provide them with the best answers to keep them legal."
Grozio echoed Zona's sentiments.
"My neighbors in LaSalle own guns for three reasons: hunting, sporting or personal defense. This new recertification requirement is taking a lot of people by surprise," Grozio said. "We're glad to have Joe and the pistol permit staff coming to the Duke Center to help our law-abiding neighbors understand how to comply with the SAFE Act's legal requirements so they can protect their Second Amendment rights."
The meeting is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be provided.
Additional meetings are planned for other sites. Details will be announced at a later time.

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