Legislators voice support for Second Amendment; NCSO announces update of business registry
By Terry Duffy
In the wake of new anti-crime legislation passed in Albany, Niagara County issued its own response this week.
On Tuesday, the Niagara County Legislature unanimously approved a resolution “affirming its support of Second Amendment rights for county residents.” This follows an update by the Niagara County Sheriffs Office of its business registry allowing concealed carry.
Both actions come off a new measure signed into law this summer by Gov. Kathy Hochul that targets the issuance of pistol permits in the state, including concealed carry by fully licensed gun owners in public.
The new law is seen as the state’s response to the Bruen opinion issued earlier by the U.S. Supreme Court. In its decision, the court struck down a long-standing New York law that required applicants for concealed carry permits in the state to show “proper cause.”
The measure calls for “changes (to the) concealed carry permitting process and adds specific eligibility requirements, including the taking and passing of firearms training courses for permit applicants.”
The law “also identifies sensitive locations where it is prohibited to carry a concealed weapon and establishes that private property owners must expressly allow a person to possess a firearm, rifle or shotgun on their property.”
The new law took effect Sept. 1.
A resolution signed by the legislature not only opposes the state law, it also authorizes Niagara County to take whatever legislative and legal remedies it deems are necessary and appropriate, including working in coalition with other counties, to overturn it.
“There is not a single legislator in this room who opposes legislation that would attempt to keep illegal guns off our streets and out of the hands of criminals, but this legislation does not do that,” said Legislator Shawn Foti, co-chairman of the Niagara County Gun Owners’ Rights Advisory Panel. “Instead, this is legislation pushed by those who simply oppose the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding New Yorkers, and want to set up obstacles and hurdles that discourage people from exercising those rights.”
Niagara County Sheriff Michael Filicetti spoke out in support of the county resolution. He criticized the state on its latest gun control measures.
“Let me be clear that, from a law enforcement point of view, there is nothing in this state legislation that will make that our communities any safer,” Filicetti said. “Improving public safety means revisiting issues like bail reform, discovery reform, how we treat repeat juvenile offenders. Those are the issues that are impacting our neighborhoods, not legal gun ownership.”
Earlier, the NCSO announced formation of a new, updated business registry of private entities in the county that permit concealed carry.
According to https://www.niagaracountysheriff.com/businessRegistry, “In order to comply with NYS legislation, beginning on September 1, 2022, entities who manage or own private property will need to display a sign to allow concealed carry pistol permit holders to carry on their premises. You can request a sign from the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office by filling out the business registry and selecting either yes or no. By selecting yes, a sign will be mailed to your business address. If you have previously registered your business through the registry but would like to request a sign, please re-register your business through the website and select yes to wanting to receive a sign.”
Commenting on his latest action, Filicetti said, “I have a lot of questions why I did the signs – concealed carry allowed at a business.
“A lot of people apparently weren’t aware of this law going into effect on Sept. 1. As a business owner, you had to expressly say, ‘Yes, I’m OK with you doing concealed carry in my business.’ It was just assumed, which is the way it should be. (But) the state got this backwards.
“It should be that it’s assumed that you could carry unless they say that you can’t,” he continued. “So, I want to get it out, to help the business owners, give them an opportunity to post these. Also to let gun owners know that there are businesses that are allowing you to carry.
“I support the Second Amendment, and I think it’s important that you’ve gone through all the hoops that were existing – to get your background check done, to get everything you needed to get done to get a pistol permit, to show you’re a law-abiding citizen and you’ve done that. Now we’re restricting essentially between the sensitive areas, which are pretty much between anything outside of your house.”
Under the new state law, the sensitive areas include, “theaters, any state-owned buildings, anything,” Filicetti said. “They’ve added a list that you’re not going to be able to comply with. And they went a step further. On top of the sensitive areas, we’re having restricted areas, which are businesses, private property.
38,000 Pistol Permit Holders
“We have 38,000 pistol permit holders in this county. I wanted something to let them know that this has changed. I don’t think that businesses should have to put a sign up, but that bad part is, (it) is now the way this law’s written. I think it was intentional. The way it was written is it pits business owners against potential people who do not like them.
“I think this law was written intentionally to make it difficult for many carry people. I think this law was designed to discourage people from getting their pistol permits, discourage them from keeping them under the new regulations, and them from carrying if you do.”
Filicetti said his main objective here is to protect the rights of the county’s gun owners. He added he feels the state’s latest action would likely be overturned on the federal level in the courts.
“Yes, I absolutely think sections of this new law are going to get overturned. If you read the (federal) judge’s brief, it absolutely spelled out a roadmap to who you need, who the right party is, and how you do it.
“I think there is a federal opinion out there (stating) the pieces of this are unconstitutional. So, I think you’re going to see this get an injunction, and there’s going to be some kind of overturn, which I agree with 100%. I am in opposition to this law.”
Filicetti went on to criticize what he described as a complete disregard of law enforcement by the State Legislature and governor when it comes to crafting New York’s gun laws.
“We in law enforcement have been asking for the last couple of years for changes in bail reform, less is more, raise the age, all these new legislations, but we’ve never had a seat at the table,” Filicetti said. “So, I have been asking for changes – law enforcement in general has been asking for changes to help us do our job better, to help keep the community safer. And we get virtually no movement. …
“This (the new concealed carry law) gets passed in a number of days … with no consultation from law enforcement, the people who are going to have to deal with this stuff.”
As far as the law’s future enforcement in Niagara County, Filicetti said it would be low priority.
“Basically, if we have a complaint, we’re going to take it – but it’s on the bottom of my priority list,” he said. “My priority list is dealing with real crime that affects our community every day, not law-abiding gun owners.”
“The hardest pill to swallow is that criminals don’t follow laws – that’s why they’re criminals; they don’t follow laws,” he continued. “So, they’re already carrying concealed handguns; they’re already out there shooting at each other. Law-abiding citizens, the numbers are so minute of them being involved in some type of an incident. … I think it’s less than 1% of legal gun owners getting into some type of trouble.
“And then you look at criminals, and it’s catch and release. And we’ve been saying you need to get tougher on gun crime; you need to do management remedial’ you need to hold pending trial. You need to make it so people will think … if I get caught in New York state, there’s going to be a problem. …
“That’s the frustration of law enforcement. They (New York state) are not focusing their efforts on helping us do our jobs. They’re more focused on doing this kind of stuff. And I tell everybody my priority is crime, not this kind of stuff.”
Filicetti said he has received significant feedback from business owners in the county who wish to join in the NCSO registry program for concealed carry.
“In the first day, we’ve had over 100 responses overnight,” he said. “I’ve given out probably over 250 signs, and I ordered 100 more, and we’re starting to go through that pile.”
Filicetti said, “These laws will not stop crime.
“So this law – we still haven’t addressed the national instant crime checks at a federal level (for gun purchases). I have no problem with background checks, but (the federal level) still doesn’t have access to juvenile records. That is a problem because that has to be passed by the federal permit, and the states have to buy into it and give access. …
“So, you raise the age from 18 to 21 to buy a rifle in New York state, and it’s supposed to address (incidents such as the Tops shooting). … When you’re trying to address it by raising the age by three years, you have to get access to his juvenile records. Would that have changed anything?
“So, why are we not looking at a common-sense fix to this thing? ‘Hey, if we can access his juvenile records, we can get a peek into (his background before age 18) to buy a rifle.’ Now it’s 21. (We) do not do that. So, when you turn 18, you have a clean slate, essentially, because they don’t look at your juvenile records.
“Access those, then you can make a good decision on whether or not you should be giving that person permission to buy that rifle. Now we go raise it three years, and this 21-year-old still has a troubled record – you’re still not going to access that. And it just doesn’t add up.
“There’s people shooting at each other in this county – they’re not legal gun owners. So, we’re focusing on legal gun owners, where we should be addressing the problem. And we don’t do that, and that’s where law enforcement is really fed up with the inaction.”
Filicetti closed by urging eligible private business owners to visit the NCSO business registry and sign up.
“There’s no issue with it,” he said. “If they want one they can go on our mobile app or on (Facebook), there’s a link that takes you directly to it.”
For more information, visit https://www.niagaracountysheriff.com/businessRegistry.
NCSO report arrest in Dumpster fire
The Niagara County Sheriffs Office responded early Thursday morning to a 911 dispatch call of a suspicious male igniting a Dumpster in the rear of an unidentified business in the Town of Niagara.
NCSO said the caller described the male suspect and reported him to be fleeing on foot into the woods at an undisclosed location. NCSO deputies responded to the area along with Town of Niagara Police. The suspect was located, and a positive show-up identification was obtained from the witness.
NCSO said male was identified was charged with arson in the fifth degree (a misdemeanor) and criminal mischief in the third degree (a Class E Felony). He was processed at the Sheriff’s Office and released on appearance tickets.
Niagara Active Volunteer Fire Co. responded promptly and extinguished the fire prior to it spreading from the Dumpster.
LPD continue investigations into hit-and-run fatality
By Terry Duffy
Investigations are continuing into a fatal hit-and-run accident that occurred early Sunday morning on Lewiston Hill Road.
According to the Lewiston Police Department, responders were dispatched to a report of a bicyclist down in the roadway at Lewiston Road and Creek Road Extension. Preliminary investigations determined the bicyclist was struck by a vehicle, which then fled the scene heading south on Lewiston Road. LPD said the bicyclist was identified as 61-year-old Barry C. Tierney of Newfane. He succumbed to his injuries on scene.
Investigators located several pieces of a vehicle at the scene of the accident, which occurred on Lewiston Hill just north of Mountain View Drive. The vehicle was reported as a gray-colored Toyota sedan with front-end damage on the passenger’s side.
LPD said the vehicle was located later Sunday on 69th Street in Niagara Falls, and the driver turned himself into authorities. His identity has not been released.
At this time, investigators with LPD and the Niagara County Sheriffs Office accident investigation unit are continuing their work with the Niagara County District Attorney’s Office. Further information will be released as it becomes available.
Child Safety Check
In other news, the LPD will hold two child passenger seat safety check events over the next two weekends. The first will occur from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 18, at Lewiston Fire Co. No. 2, 1705 Saunders Settlement Road. The second is set for 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 25, at Lewiston Fire Co. No. 1 145 N. Sixth St., Lewiston. No appointment is necessary for either event.
For more information check out the LPD app, visit on Facebook, or contact the department at 716-754-8477.