LOCKPORT – Retired police officers in Niagara County would be allowed to carry concealed guns without a permit, under terms of a county resolution that implements federal laws.
A County Legislature committee voted Tuesday to endorse laws that Presidents Obama and George W. Bush have signed to exempt retired police from state or local laws on concealed firearms.
The full Legislature is to vote Tuesday.
Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Thomas C. Beatty said the measure applies to retired members of the Sheriff’s Office, the State Police and municipal police agencies in the county.
In order to qualify for concealed carry without a permit, the former officers must have served for at least 10 years.
Also, Beatty said, they must qualify annually by passing a weapons test at the shooting range that the Sheriff’s Office uses to certify active officers in firearms safety. The retirees will be held to the same marksmanship standard as active officers and must supply their own guns and ammunition, so the county will not incur any expense.
“There are certain physical requirements you need to pass. It’s not just being able to hold up a gun and hit a target,” said Legislator David E. Godfrey, R-Wilson, chairman of the Community Safety and Security Committee. He said retirees who are in poor physical condition would not be certified to carry guns.
Beatty said the former officers will be allowed to carry only guns that are similar to those used on the job by current officers.
The policy does not exempt retired police from federal laws that limit where guns may be carried. The exemption applies only to state and local laws.
“It was tabled (in September) pending some questions that counsel had,” Godfrey said. “The question was what liability the county had if the individual were to do something wrong. Could it come back on the county?”
The answer was unclear, Godfrey said, as no laws could be found one way or the other.
On another topic at Tuesday’s committee meetings, the reappointment of Samuel M. Ferraro for another five-year term as county economic-development commissioner was sent to the floor for action next week.
The nomination by County Manager Jeffrey M. Glatz included a salary package for Ferraro that will continue to be paid half by the county and half by the Industrial Development Agency, where Ferraro is executive director.
His current salary of $111,758 a year will remain in effect through 2014. He is being promised raises of at least 1.5 percent in 2015 and 2016, and at least 2 percent in 2017 and 2018. Those would bring his salary to $119,787 by 2018, but the resolution allows the Legislature to give Ferraro larger raises, based on performance evaluations.