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Pistol permits in the hands of judges

How difficult is it to exercise one's Second Amendment rights and obtain a pistol permit in New York State?

It all depends on one's county of residence and the inclinations/predilections of the issuing agent (county judge) involved in the permit-granting process, according to Jack Taylor, chairman of the Genesee County Chapter of SCOPE (Shooters Committee On Political Education).

This and other hot-potato issues involved with gun-ownership and shooting were topics of discussion during the August meeting of the Genesee County chapter in Batavia on Tuesday.

"Area counties vary, but Erie and Genesee counties are the most difficult to obtain a conceal-carry permit," Taylor said.

He has high praise for the way Genesee County officials process pistol permit applications.

"They're done in a timely fashion and the personnel are polite and professional when handling applications," Taylor noted. He added that it is virtually impossible to obtain anything beyond a hunting-target shooting permit in that county.

Also, larger counties such as Monroe and Erie take longer to process applications. Taylor attributes it to the volume of applications and systems working with fewer clerks in recent years.

Genesee processes the most pistol permits of all Western New York counties.

Taylor estimates 20-30 permits are issued each time a "firearms license" is granted in that county.

While I spend considerable time afield with a bow and long guns during hunting seasons, our recent move to Genesee County prompted thoughts of obtaining a pistol permit here. On April 5, 2010, my application for a conceal-carry permit was issued as a Hunting/Target permit.

That day, 44 others obtained similar permits, a number the Honorable Judge Robert C. Noonan noted was a record at one permit-issuing session.

Taylor pointed out that this conceal-carry application would probably have resulted in a conceal-carry issuance in nearby counties such as Orleans, Livingston and Wyoming but not necessarily in Erie County.

The problem across New York State is that each county judge assigned to pistol-permit assessments can exercise his or her preferences as to the status of issuance.

"We (permit applicants and handgun owners) are subjected to the scrutiny of a criminal before and while we hold permits," Taylor said. "We go through a more thorough check than any other permit or license applicant in the state," he added.

SCOPE Chapters help in getting the word out on these issues.

"Pressures involving pistol permit issuance in Orleans County resulted in the election of another judge years ago," Taylor said.

Some members of the Genesee County chapter reside in Livingston and Wyoming counties, which don't have a county SCOPE Chapter.

Membership has risen to nearly 200, and monthly meetings draw more than 30 attendees. "We will draw even more on nights when we have a noted speaker," Taylor said.

The next Genesee County SCOPE meeting, on Sept. 14, will feature Jim Carr discussing "Personal Defense Training."

The Oct. 11 meeting welcomes political candidates willing to discuss Second Amendment issues.

One attendee at the Tuesday SCOPE meeting mentioned that New York State has nearly four million gun owners. SCOPE officials in each county and statewide would like to see greater participation in these efforts to support the Second Amendment.

The Genesee County meetings, and all area chapters, welcome visitors. For information on the Genesee Chapter, call Dave Kaufmann at (585) 494-2314. For details on the Erie County Chapter of SCOPE, check with chairman Gerry Cumbo at 893-1629.

Attending the annual statewide SCOPE Banquet is another way to connect with active SCOPE members and learn more about gun-rights and political issues affecting shooting and ownership of firearms.

This year, the Annual Banquet will be held Oct. 7 at Lucarelli's Banquet Center at 1830 Abbott Road in Lackawanna.

To find out more about the statewide banquet, active chapters in counties nearest you, and leading issues receiving current consideration, go to the statewide website at