The fight against gun control in New York continues two years after Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the SAFE Act into law, and one county sheriff is urging New Yorkers to throw their pistol permit renewals in the trash.
Three counties—Fulton, Albany, and Schenectady— were chosen in January to take part in the pilot program for pistol permit renewals. Five hundred "invitations," as the state government dubbed them, are being sent to residents in each of the counties.
"I’m asking everybody who gets these invitations to throw them into the garbage—that’s where they belong," Fulton County Sheriff Thomas Lorey said at a meeting with Second Amendment supporters.
"If you get a letter like that, don’t do it," Lorey said. "Let’s have everyone’s permit expire on the same day and let them see what they are going to do with it."
This is the second launch of the pistol recertification pilot program. The Washington Free Beacon reported on its chaotic launch last year. That pilot involved seven counties, and many withdrew.
The SAFE Act changed pistol permits into a renewable license and a permit holder’s eligibility for renewal and recertification became mandatory.
As part of the recertification process, applicants must list all arrests, drug or alcohol treatment, mental illness, or family court petition or charge, according to a memo by Wayne County Clerk Mike Jankowski. That memo was sent after meeting with the state police after the election.
"The applicant lists all handguns registered to him and this information may need to be reconciled with the state database," the memo stated. "According to Lt. [James] Sherman, the object of the recertification process is to create a ‘pristine’ database that any law enforcement official would be able to access at any time with real time information."
Sherman was one of three representatives of the state police at the winter meeting on the SAFE Act.
The pistol permit data would be linked to the Department of Motor Vehicles database, and an officer would then know whether a vehicle pulled over was owned by a permit holder.
Lorey did not respond to a request for comment, nor did the two sheriffs from Albany and Schenectady counties.
Stephen Aldstadt, president of the Shooter’s Committee on Political Education, told the Free Beacon he did not have any figures on how the pistol recertification is going so far, but said, "I can tell you that there is a general feeling that people do not want to certify either online or early. Anecdotally, most of what I am hearing from people is that they plan on re-filing at the latest possible date by certified mail unless the law is overturned or repealed first."
"I have seen the video from Sheriff Lorey. He has been one of the more outspoken critics of the N.Y. SAFE Act since it first passed," Aldstadt said. "We are not telling people what they should do, or giving legal advice, but I believe the letter of the law is that you have until January 2018 to re-certify."
Recertification letters are expected to go out between March and June of this year.
While Lorey indicated the battle against the SAFE Act could be a long fight, he said, "I wanted to assure you that everyone in Fulton County has nothing to fear from the sheriff’s office."
"We have real crime and real criminals we occupy our time with," Lorey said.
Republicans have also called for changes to the SAFE Act, and several new GOP members defeated Democrats in the elections because of their opposition to Cuomo’s gun control law.
Sen. Phil Boyle (R., Suffolk County) earlier this month sponsored the Defend Our Homes Act, which would authorize the possession of a magazine with more than seven rounds but fewer than 11 rounds in a person’s home.
SCOPE is involved in several lawsuits and is planning a Lobby Day on March 3 in Albany that will include a delegation from every SCOPE chapter and committee from 46 counties.
The group is also continuing its grassroots effort against SAFE.
"We will continue to advocate with the legislators for repeal of any and every part of N.Y. SAFE, and to block funding for the SAFE Act in the 2015 budget," said Aldstadt.
Others also are planning rallies in the upcoming months against SAFE. The New York Revolution group, another Second Amendment group, announced the Non-Compliance Day on April 15.
"The group advertising the non-compliance day on April 15 is New York Revolution. They are a part of the New York State Second Amendment Coalition as well as SCOPE. They are calling New Yorkers to "do nothing" on that day.
"I can support that," Aldstadt said.