MALONE — A bevy of new gun laws in New York have Franklin County officials concerned about how to handle the administration of permit requirements, and some county lawmakers consider the law incomplete with regard to gun owners in the rural North Country.
Franklin County Clerk Kip Cassava addressed the Franklin County Board of Legislators during their regular meeting on Thursday and said he believed gun laws that would go into effect on September 1 would put an unsustainable workload on his office. He said county clerks across the state share their frustration with a law that he and others don’t believe was fully thought through.
Cassava said changing gun licensing requirements in state law, combined with a Supreme Court decision in July of New York’s concealed carry law and earlier laws relating to rifles and semiautomatic rifles, required state residents to carry firearms. Will change the way licenses are granted.
State law will soon require permits for semi-automatic rifles, in addition to the pistol permits already required. Cassava said the law would allow gun owners to add a semi-automatic rifle to existing pistol permits, while all other cases would require a special permit.
The new law requires a recertification course every three years — down from every five — to be taken concealed, which includes completing a 16-hour course. Applicants must have scored at least 80% in a written test and declared proficient in live-fire scenarios with an officer of the State Police. All other permits must be re-certified every five years.
This requires applicants to disclose any social media accounts they have used in the past three years, and sit down with the licensing authority, usually a judge, and complete an interview. Applicants must submit the names and personal information of any adults living in the same household as the permit applicant. This requires personal references and “any other information required by the judge.
Cassava said this presents a hardship for many law-abiding citizens as well as his office.
Cassava said the law also lacked clear definitions of where concealed carry is allowed. For example, while concealed carry is not permitted in parks, it is not clear whether the law refers to Adirondack Park and other state parks, or to municipal and neighborhood parks, or to both. Adirondack Park is the largest state park in the country and a haven for hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts.
“The paperwork associated with this is going to be overwhelming,” Cassava said. “It’s going to create a tremendous workload. I don’t know how we’re going to keep track of all this.”
He said his office is contacting the state police and other officials for clarification and directions on the new laws.
“They just don’t know,” Cassava said.
The county currently allows 6,500 gun owners to carry covert pistols, but with the new requirements permit numbers are sure to increase significantly.
“Many of us have a (unlicensed) .22 in our gun cabinet, or something for deer hunting,” Cassava said. “It changes everything.”
Legislator Andrea M. Dumas, R-Malone expressed his concern with the state’s redundancies.
“Is this another unfunded mandate the state is pursuing?” Dumas asked. “Are they going to appoint a judge to mandate these face-to-face visits?”
“Permit alone is a full-time job,” MLA Donald Dabiev, D-Bombay said.
D-Sarnac Lake legislator Lindy Ellis questioned whether the new law would deter people who shouldn’t have guns.
“I would say no, because that doesn’t stop you or me from going to Pennsylvania and buying a handgun,” Cassava said.
“It doesn’t stop someone from breaking into your house and stealing your guns,” Dumas added.
Cassava said the new requirements put the onus on pistol-permit holders who have taken steps to maintain and maintain legal compliance.
“It’s just going to add more on those people,” Cassava said.
Ellis supported the need for social media disclosure in permit applications, citing the prevalence of violent and disturbing social media posts by mass shooters at incidents across the country in recent years.
“Most of our people treat guns fairly,” Alice said. “It’s about finding people who are about to get derailed.”
No action was taken Thursday by the Franklin County Legislature and the county is awaiting further instructions from the state.