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Officials call on state to extend pistol recertification deadline

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    Gov. Andrew Cuomo signing the New York SAFE Act into law in January 2013. Under the SAFE Act people are required to recertify their pistol permits every five years, and the first deadline is Jan. 31.
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    Columbia County Clerk Holly Tanner will meet with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s staff Thursday to discuss extending the deadline for people to recertify their pistol permits.
January 8, 2018 11:30 pm Updated: January 10, 2018 06:02 am

State and local officials are calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to extend the deadline to recertify pistol permits as the cutoff looms closer.

The governor’s controversial SAFE Act includes recertification of pistol permits every five years. People who received a pistol permit before Jan. 15, 2013, have until Jan 31 to recertify.

“I support smart gun control,” Katherine Moore, of Hudson, said. “Five years sounds like a reasonable amount of time to recertify.”

Several Republican state lawmakers from western New York, who are staunch opponents to the SAFE Act, held a press conference in Albany calling on the governor to push the approaching deadline, arguing it would provide local officials the appropriate amount of time needed to process the recertifications.

“An extension would absolutely help,” said Columbia County Clerk Holly Tanner. “The latest numbers, as of last week, from state police is that 2,400 people in the county, out of eight to 10,000 pistol permit holders, have recertified. That is a very small percentage of people who need to recertify.”

Tanner got the figures from state police, she said, adding only 200,000 people statewide, with the exception of New York City and its suburbs, have recertified.

New York City, Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk counties require license holders to renew or recertify their license on a periodic basis.

“That number is very low,” Tanner said. “And we only have three weeks left.”

Tanner and other members of the state County Clerks Association have a meeting scheduled with governor’s staff Thursday to discuss the possibility of extending the deadline.

Tanner’s office handles pistol permit certifications for Columbia County, while Greene County Sheriff Greg Seeley’s office handles pistol certifications for Greene County.

Seeley did not return multiple calls for comment Monday.

“I think people have had an adequate amount of time to recertify,” said Kyle Schwarz, of Windham, who said he already recertified his pistol permit. “Some people wait until the last minute.”

Schwarz said having to recertify every five years is reasonable.

“It isn’t a terrible thing,” he said. “It’s a privilege [to own a gun] just like renewing your driver’s license.”

State police released a statement Friday urging people to file for recertification before Jan. 31.

“Failure to recertify will serve as a revocation of the license, per NYS Penal Law Section 400.00(10)(b),” according to the statement.

Pistol owners can recertify on the state police website or with a paper form that can be mailed to the state.

Those recertifying must affirm they are not prohibited from possessing firearms under state and federal law, and must also confirm certain personal information and details about the pistols or revolvers they own, according to state police.

Out-of-state residents who do not possess either a New York State driver’s license or a non-driver identification card must use the paper form to recertify and must attach a copy of their driver’s license or non-driver identification card from the state where they live.

Anyone who does not recertify by the deadline risks suspension of the permit.

“Please just recertify,” Tanner said. “No matter what you think about the law, it is still the law,” Tanner said. “The fallout for not recertifying may be more dramatic than it needs to be.”