LOCKPORT - Niagara County is making a special computer and a stack of printed forms available to pistol permit holders who otherwise might have difficulty complying with the New York State recertification law.
The computer and the forms are available in the pistol permit office in the basement of the Niagara County Courthouse at the corner of Park Avenue and Hawley Street in Lockport.
Clerk Joseph A. Jastrzemski, a Republican elected clerk in 2014, said he remains opposed to the SAFE Act, the state gun control law that includes the recertification requirement.
"Our pistol permit holders shouldn't have to do this, but if they don't, it's a State Police matter, and we have no say locally about the disposition of their guns. I'm offering the tools for them to remain in compliance with a very badly thought-out law," Jastrzemski said.
Will Fowler, supervisor of the Erie County pistol permit office, said Tuesday that office has no plans to offer a similar service.
After criticism in December from Jastrzemski and officials of other counties, the State Police recently launched the recertification website it was mandated to create under the SAFE Act.
The law requires anyone who had a pistol permit before Jan. 15, 2013, to recertify the information on their permits every five years. If they don't, the permit is to be canceled and the listed guns are to be surrendered. The law applies only to handguns, not to rifles or shotguns.
“I remain adamantly opposed to the SAFE Act, and am unhappy we have to take these steps to protect our permit holders’ rights, but I also don’t want to see any of our gun owners forced to surrender their firearms because of a pointless rule,” Jastrzemski said.
The deadline for recertifications is Jan. 31, 2018, but not until a few weeks ago did the State Police put the recertification website online at troopers.ny.gov/Firearms.
Jastrzemski is making a computer and printed copies of the required forms available in the Courthouse for those permit holders who don't have Internet access or simply prefer to do things on paper. The forms can be mailed in. Hours at the pistol permit office are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
"For the pistol permit holders that don’t have the Internet, or don’t have computers, this is the best option I can offer,” Jastrzemski said. “We don’t want law-abiding people to lose their pistol permits.”
The public can also call the State Police's toll-free information line about the recertification program at 855-529-4867 and visit the police agency's website about the SAFE Act at safeact.ny.gov.